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Lolohea going nowhere yet: Kearney

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/05/2017

Talk of Tuimoala Lolohea's imminent departure from the Warriors is "premature", according to coach Stephen Kearney, as rumours of a link-up with the Wests Tigers grow deafening.

The 22-year-old, who has languished in the NSW Cup squad since his demotion from first-grade Warriors duty six weeks ago, is thought to be close to the Tigers and has been granted permission to explore his options.

Only an official release from Lolohea's Warriors deal, which expires at the end of 2018, reportedly stands in the way of his arrival at Concord - allowing the Tigers to offload playmaker Mitchell Moses to Parramatta.

Lolohea would then replace the Roosters-bound James Tedesco as Tigers fullback in 2018, following the arrival of Canterbury's Josh Reynolds.

Capped once for the Kiwis and twice for Tonga, Lolohea has often found himself as a Mr Fix-It in Auckland, where his preferred spots in the halves or at fullback are blocked by Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

A born and raised Aucklander, Lolohea has played 53 times for the club since his 2014 NRL debut, scoring 17 tries.

Kearney admitted on Wednesday that it was "hard to say" if Lolohea would still be in Auckland by season's end, but gave no indication a deal was close.

Given Lolohea's broken-field ability, footwork and creativity, he remains a solid option should any of the aforementioned Kiwis trio go down hurt.

"His agent (Stan Martin) has asked if he can talk to other clubs and we've given permission to do that - to say we'll release him is a bit premature," Kearney said.

"We'll see how things pan out over the next week or so."

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