Saturday, 2 July 2016

Tui Lo(ck)lohea - Left Field Positional Switch?

I have no doubt in my mind that this opinion is going to cause plenty of backlash and likely be ridiculed to no end but bare with me.

To point out the blatantly obvious, no player can continue on playing forever and as it stands we have 2 players currently playing in our back row who have a very good chance of retiring and/or leaving the club at roughly the same time. Those two players i am referring to are Ryan Hoffman and Simon Mannering.

It's no secret that many Warriors supporters believe that our back row can be a little too "one dimensional" and we lack a creative, ball playing back rower within the ranks. So, if we were to lose both Hoffman and Mannering in the one season do we currently have a succession plan? Who fills the void, a MASSIVE void at that, that will be left once these guys are no longer pulling on the Warriors jumper.

With the current crop we have, the options to fill said void currently lay with Ben Henry, Charlie Gubb, Shaun Lane, John Palavi and Ligi Sao. What if we were to look slightly, or completely left field and consider an option that not many would think to consider, Tuimoala Lolohea.

As it stands currently, Tui wouldn't be up to the defensive workload in a position like lock but that's not to say, given the correct training, that those skills aren't able to be taught. Tui has already proven that he is a very flexible player with his ability to cover multiple positions. It is also clear that at the moment he is probably a few kg's too light to be considered to fill a back row position but judging by his body shape i don't think he would find it overally difficult to add an extra bit of weight if that is what was required of him.

There are some doubts that are lingering over this "long term" partnership that seems to be on the cards with Lolohea and SJ in the halves. If the teams recent displays are anything to go by, it's clear that SJ is a much more confident player when he has a player like Leuluai alongside him, a toiler if you will. The fear with having 2 "X-Factor" type players in the halves is when the going gets tough and the arm wrestle is in full swing, we will lack the kind of player that can sum up the situation with a calm head and control the game so that the arm wrestle slowly begins to lean in the Warriors favour.

It seems to be that Cappy will now have both Fusitua and a fully fit RTS in front of Lolohea on the pecking order for the fullback position. If the 5/8 experiment was to fail and with 2 high class fullbacks in front of him that would leave Lolohea to be spending his time on the wing. That would be nothing but a waste of the mans talent and although he may do plenty of great things in that position over time, we would miss out on even more of those great moments and the extra chances he would no doubt create if he was on the wing as opposed to being in the thick of the action.

If we were able to fill 1 of the 2 hypothetical vacant back row spots with a work horse and hand the reigns to someone like Lolohea as a ball playing back rower, it's hard not to let your mind drift and day dream over the potent attacking opportunities we could unlock by living on the edge and taking a leap of faith with this positional switch.

Just imagine the carnage we could create on opposition teams with a team that bolstered the likes of RTS/Fusitua at FB, a specialist 5/8 in Tommy partnering SJ in the halves, Luke at hooker and Tui Lolohea at lock.

Given the chance, as far as ball playing back rowers are concerned, there is no reason why Tui would not surpass the likes of Brad Fittler, Braith Anasta, Feleti Mateo or Jason Smith as the best ball playing lock to have played the game.

A left field opinion i know, but is it necessarily a bad one?

- Written by Geese


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