Photo: Getty Images
Tuimoala Lolohea can play for the Wests Tigers as early as Saturday's NRL clash against St George Illawarra after joining his new teammates for training on Monday.
After weeks of lobbying for a release from the Warriors, utility Lolohea was finally let go last week and his two-and-a-half year deal with the second-last placed Tigers was confirmed on Monday.
The Tigers will consider him for selection in the halves when their round 13 team gets named on Tuesday.
Lolohea, who has played one Test for New Zealand in 2015, is likely to partner Luke Brooks in the halves this season but widely tipped to be the club's long-term solution at fullback in place of Sydney Roosters-bound James Tedesco.
His arrival is the latest in a flurry of recruitment hits for the once-besieged club, joining Josh Reynolds, Russell Packer, Ben Matulino and Chris McQueen on the books next year.
The new faces follow the controversial mid-season exit of Mitchell Moses to Parramatta, as well as Tedesco and captain Aaron Woods (Canterbury) at the end of the year.
It also means new coach Ivan Cleary's rebuild is in full swing, with first-grade regulars Josh Aloiai, Michael Chee Kam, David Nofoaluma, Moses Suli and Brooks also re-signing this year. Read the full statement below.
Wests Tigers Official Statement
Wests Tigers are pleased to announce the signing of Tuimoala Lolohea, effective immediately.
Lolohea has joined Wests Tigers until at least the end of the 2019 season and is available for selection for the team’s Round 13 clash against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The versatile 22 year old has played 53 NRL games for the New Zealand Warriors since making his debut in 2014.
Photo: Getty Images
Wests Tigers Head Coach Ivan Cleary welcomed Lolohea to the club.
“On behalf of everyone at Wests Tigers I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Tui to the club,” said Cleary. "Tui has shown that he is a player of tremendous natural talent.
"We look forward to helping him develop, and reach his true potential, in the coming years."
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said that Lolohea brings to Wests Tigers experience at both a club and International level.
“We look forward to having a player of Tui’s talent join Wests Tigers for the coming two and a half seasons,” said Pascoe. “At just 22 years of age he’s already represented both New Zealand and Tonga and we’re keen to see him take his game to the next level here.”
Lolohea was a part of the Warriors’ 2014 Holden Cup Premiership winning squad and the following year named the Warriors Rookie of the Year.
He was also named in the 2016 Auckland Nines Team of the Tournament.