Warriors confirm signing of powerhouse NRL Forward

Publish Date
Wednesday, 17 April 2024, 3:32PM

By Will Toogood

The Warriors have announced the signing of James Fisher-Harris.

The Auckland NRL club announced on social media they had secured the services of the 28-year-old on a four-year deal, with the prop in line to replace the departing Addin Fonua-Blake.

The deal will commence from 2025, just as Fonua-Blake will head to the Cronulla Sharks.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George said the club was “absolutely delighted” to sign the rampaging prop.

“It’s a huge signing for us, undoubtedly one of the biggest in our club’s history,” George said.

“To be able to add a player of his calibre and standing to our squad is a tremendous boost for 2025 and beyond. He’s such a highly-respected player and leader.”

Coach Andrew Webster and Fisher-Harris will be reunited after working together when Webster was an assistant coach at Penrith for the grand final-winning seasons in 2021 and 2022.

“It’s going to be fantastic having James with us. He’s one of the game’s elite players, a super tough forward who sets and demands the highest standards,” said Webster.

“I loved working with him at the Panthers and we really look forward to bringing him into our system from next season. He’ll add terrific value to our roster, to the club overall and he’ll also be invaluable as a mentor for our young players coming through.”

Fisher-Harris, born in Kohukohu in the Far North, made his NRL debut with Penrith in 2016, followed by his Kiwi test debut later the same year. Rising to become Kiwis captain last year, he has played a total of 15 tests. He has also captained the Māori All Stars.

A 183-game NRL veteran, Fisher-Harris has been at the forefront of Penrith’s run of three consecutive Premiership wins in 2021, 2022 and 2023, while he also played in the 2020 grand final.

He led the Kiwis to a record 30-0 win over the Kangaroos in the Pacific Championships final last year, culminating in him winning the Golden Boot player of the year award and the New Zealand Rugby League’s player of the year accolade.

Last year, Fisher-Harris became the sixth Kiwi to win the International Rugby League’s Golden Boot award, while Kiwi Ferns stalwart Georgia Hale took out the female honour. It was the second successive quinella for New Zealand after Joseph Manu and Raecene McGregor topped the lists in 2022.

Fisher-Harris created a unique slice of history, becoming the first prop recognised in an award that dates back to 1984.

It completed a milestone year. He was the rock upon which Penrith’s third successive NRL triumph was built, alongside fellow Kiwis front-rower Moses Leota. While other props garner more headlines, arguably none were as consistently effective as Fisher-Harris, especially in the big games.

The Northland product was then named captain for the Pacific Championships campaign and responded in the best possible fashion, with three inspiring performances. It was a remarkable effort, given his workload over the past 12 months included the 2022 grand final, the Kiwis World Cup campaign, and the Māori All Stars game in early February.

”I’ve played a lot of footy over the last three years,” Fisher-Harris told the Herald in December. “But I’m really in a good space now, the mind is clear and I am ready to go.”

And he was. Fisher-Harris is famously quiet - a leader by his actions - but went to a new level as skipper.

Former Kiwis coach Michael Maguire, who oversaw 15 of his 16 tests, paid tribute at the time.

”I can’t think of a better bloke to take out such a prestigious award,” said Maguire. “It’s thoroughly deserved. In our time together, I have watched you grow from that young player to winning grand finals and now leading the Kiwis to an emphatic win against Australia and creating a bit of history.

”You led right from the front, right from the time you walked into the campaign that we had together. You’re an absolute champion and with the way you go about things, and there’s a lot of reasons why you’re such a success in rugby league.”

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission

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