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Lolohea better prepared for World Cup tilt

Dan Talintyre & Tom Meredith

Wests Tigers five-eighth Tui Lolohea says he’s excited to line up for Tonga this Sunday as they begin their 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign against Scotland.  

Lolohea, who featured in the 2013 World Cup for New Zealand as a baby-faced teenager, will line up in the halves this weekend alongside close friend Ata Hingano as they look to get Tonga off to a winning start against Scotland. And four years on from his first World Cup camoaign, the elusive playmaker says he’s much better equipped this time around to deliver for his side and help guide the Pacific nation to a strong campaign.

“Last World Cup, I was 18 and pretty keen to play,” he said.

“I was really excited to be a part of the tournament having come through the 20’s grades, but at the same time I knew I probably wasn’t quite ready for it.

“Now, being a part of the squad and leading the boys around, is a good feeling.”

Lolohea said he’d been in discussion with Club Coach Ivan Cleary about the importance of using the World Cup to set him up for a strong season with Wests Tigers in 2018.

“I’ve had a chat with Ivan leading in to the tournament,” Lolohea revealed.

“He said this would be really good for my experience, and hopefully I can take what I’ve learned with here at camp and use that next year at Wests Tigers.

“I thought I was playing some good footy for Wests Tigers towards the back end of the year, and I think that’s what got me in to this team playing in the halves.”

Tonga will begin their World Cup campaign against Scotland on October 29 in Carins, before heading to Hamilton to face Samoa on November 4 and New Zealand on November 11.

Click here for the full 2017 Rugby League World Cup schedule.