Why McFadden will pick Robson over Lolohea

Why McFadden will pick Robson over Lolohea Written by GREG PRICHARD, February 17, 2016

VETERAN Mr Reliable, Jeff Robson, is set to partner superstar Shaun Johnson in the halves for the Warriors when they open their premiership campaign against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on March 5.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden tells RLW he is leaning towards the vastly experienced Robson rather than promising youngster Tuimoala Lolohea.

“It’s likely Jeff will be there in the halves with Shaun,” McFadden says. “Thomas Leuluai is still recovering from a knee reconstruction and he won’t be ready to play until round three or four. Tuimoala Lolohea is very promising, but it’s probably a bit premature for him there.”

Lolohea, who turned 21 last month, played a lot of first grade last season, but that was largely forced on the Warriors because of a horror injury toll. Lolohea is versatile and filled in at fullback, centre and halfback to help cover.

Lolohea

Lolohea even went on the end-of-season tour of England with the New Zealand national team, which was wracked by injuries in the halves. Lolohea played halfback in the first Test loss, but Kodi Nikorima was preferred to him in the second and third Tests of the series England won 2-1.

It is still quite possible Lolohea could fit into the 17 somewhere, but McFadden clearly sees a great balance in a halves combination of Robson, with his guile and calm control, and Johnson with his match-winning brilliance.

“There’s nothing flash about ‘Robbo’, but the composure he has shown at training is very impressive,” McFadden says. “It’s great for the young halves to see that from him and learn from it as well.”

McFadden says Leuluai’s comeback had recently been delayed.

“It was always touch and go whether Thomas would be ready for round one anyway, but he recently had a little setback,” he says. “He pulled up sore and we had to back him off a bit. It was nothing major, his knee’s strong. It just put his return back a few weeks.”

McFadden has named close to his best side in the Warriors’ final trial against St George Illawarra at Nelson on Saturday.

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