Tui Lolohea reveals how Sam Tomkins’s transfer affected his career

Tui Lolohea will ply his trade in a Huddersfield Giants shirt in 2022 after spells in the UK with the Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils.

But, if it had never been for a certain Sam Tomkins, then the Tonga international may well have been still playing in the NRL.

Lolohea came through the ranks with the New Zealand Warriors, debuting in 2014 and going on to play over 50 games in a three-and-a-half year spell.

However, it was the transfer of Tomkins that seemingly began the decline of Lolohea’s role at the Warriors – before it had even begun.

Like the Tonga, Tomkins made his way into the New Zealand Warriors side in 2014, eventually scoring 14 tries in 37 appearances.

But, in doing so – and with the likes of Chad Townsend and Shaun Johnson fighting for the halfback spots – Lolohea was forced out into every position except that of a playmaker.

“At the start I quite liked it, I felt it was my way of being in the team,” Lolohea told the Say Less podcast.

“That first year I made my debut and I played all over the place – I enjoyed it.

“However, in my second year I ended up being a winger and if it wasn’t for Sam Tomkins coming over, I think I played 11 or 12 games at fullback, but I played wing and centre.

“Towards the back end of the season, I started feeling like I wanted to nail down one spot and get good at it, learn my weaknesses and get better at doing that.

“It got to me and I wasn’t enjoying my rugby as much as I would have liked.”

The 26-year-old also revealed that it took a humbling drop to the reserve grade and a subsequent move to re-find that love.

“I remember when I got dropped and started playing reserve grade and there was no chance of me playing there again.

“It took its toll mentally, as a young kid I didn’t take it too well and I left mid-year to join the Wests Tigers – it was then I started enjoying rugby again and it led into the World Cup in 2017.”

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Brad Ward
Brad Ward
23 days ago

What an embarrassing article