Leeds Rhinos on red alert for Salford Red Devils danger man Tui Lolohea says Harry Newman

FORMER RHINO Tui Lolohea will be a huge threat to Leeds’ hopes of getting back on track today, Harry Newman has warned.

Rhinos go into this evening’s Betfred Super League showdown with Salford Red Devils at Warrington’s HJ Stadium on the back of successive defeats.

They have plunged from top to sixth in the table and another loss – in what is officially a home fixture – would be a major blow to their play-off chances.

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Tongan international stand-off Lolohea – who joined Leeds last season on a three-year deal, but played only 17 games before being transferred to Salford – will be the Red Devils’ dangerman.

Ash Handley holds off Salford Red Devils playmaker Tui Lolohea. Picture: Steve Riding.

He had a difficult time at Rhinos, switching between stand-off and full-back and was allowed to leave as part of the deal which brought Rob Lui to Emerald Headingley.

But under coach Ian Watson, Lolohea has thrived at Salford, helping them to third spot in the table and a Grand Final appearance last year.

He was also a Golden Boot nominee, played in Tonga’s Test win over Great Britain and scored a try when Leeds won 22-8 at Salford in February.

Lolohea was man of the match in his side’s 54-18 thrashing of Hull three weeks ago and Leeds centre Newman warned: “Tui will be looking forward to playing against us.”

Salford's Kris Welham with Tui Lolohea. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Newman said: “He was a good player when he was here.

“He is very skilful, they have got a few good players, but we are looking forward to the challenge. They had a good win against Hull FC and they played well. We will watch what they have done and put a plan in place to beat them.”

Salford have not played since beating Hull in their first game following lockdown.

That was their second successive win, after an outstanding 18-14 victory over Wigan Warriors in March.

Harry Newman in action against Salford Red Devils earlier in the season. Picture: Steve Riding.

Since a 28-10 loss to Wigan 13 days ago, Leeds’ emphasis has been on improving their match fitness and getting to grips with Super League’s new six-again law and handovers in place of scrums.

Newman insisted Rhinos have put the two-week gap between games to good use.

“I think it’s one of the few chances we are going to get to have a bit of time off, because the games are coming thick and fast now,” he stated.

“We’ve just been getting the body to go again so it has been good and we’ve done some hard work in training.

“We have had some tough sessions, more like a game really, just trying to build our fitness levels up.

“The game has speeded up a lot and we want to be better.

“We haven’t performed to the standard we were at before the [coronavirus] break so we are just looking to get back there as quickly as possible.”

Rhinos are still coming to terms with the new rules introduced when Super League resumed at the start of this month.

“We’ve been working on game-related fitness,” Newman said.

“The game has speeded up, I think the ball is in play for an average of 13 minutes more per game so we have just got to be better in little areas, but we will be all right.”

Having won five successive matches either side of lockdown, Rhinos go into today’s game on the back of successive defeats by St Helens and Wigan.

But Newman stressed: “We have got the players [to bounce back].

“We have got some talented players, we all work hard together and everyone’s on the same page, even though we haven’t had the best performances since we’ve been back.

“We are looking forward to building into that this week.

“We’ve had a week off, a good week’s training and we are ready to go again.”

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