Tohu Harris talks shop. Source/File
Ngāti Kahungnu NRL star Tohu Harris is ready to put the most frustrating time of his career behind him, and take his place in the Warriors line up when the season kicks off next month.
Harris played much of the Warriors pre-season game against Melbourne in Palmerston North on Saturday. His first run on the field since the round 14 clash last year against the Gold Coast Titans when he snapped a bone in his foot.
That was the culmination of an injury he had first picked up nearly 3 years earlier in the 2016 Kiwis test against the Kangaroos in Perth.
While Harris managed the injury for over 900 days, it created other issues, particularly with his knees.
Harris says now that he’s healed, he’s raring to go:
“I just want to get out there. I’ve been doing a lot of training, Sunday can’t come quick enough.
“It was frustrating at the time but it’s been really good being able to do most of the pre-season and being back out on the field.
“Again it’s just done a lot of work and it’s been a long time between games, but looking forward to it,” the 26-year-old forward says.
Harris is set to take his place in the back row for this Sunday’s final preseason trial against the Wests Tigers in Rotorua. He says the team have taken a lot out of their 16-18 loss against Melbourne, with what was largely a young and inexperienced squad.
“I think we started the game really slow, so that just sort of goes into the preparation and making sure that we’re ready to go from the start of the whistle,” Harris says.
Stephen Kearney talks business. Source/File
Coach Stephen Kearney has reviewed the game against the Storm and has identified the areas that were weak and have focussed on those ahead of this game.
Kearney hinted today that how the Warriors line up this weekend will be as close to his preferred round one team against the Knights on March 14. That will likely mean an increase in minutes on the field for some of his senior players, while also getting a glimpse at who will line in the hotly contested hooker and standoff jerseys.
“Some of them haven’t played football this pre-season, haven’t had much footy. Wade [hooker recruit Wade Egan] had 20 minutes last week, so I’ll be looking to play him a bit more time.
“In particular Tohu, Leeson [prop Leeson Ah Mau], we’ll try and get a fair bit of chunk of time into them.
“Ideally we’ll be treating it as a dress rehearsal for round 1. Last week we were making changes every quarter.
“But this week we’ll try and keep it close to the interchange rule, which is 8, maybe a couple more than that.
“But we’ll try to keep it as close to round 1 rehearsal as possible,” Kearney says.
Harris believes the preseason campaign has gone well for the Warriors, and it’s a matter of making the transition from the training field to match day if they want to improve on their disappointing 13th place finish and return to the finals for just the second time in 10 years.
“We’re feeling pretty good at this point this year.
“Obviously it’s got to translate on to the field and that’s what we’re looking into.
“Just make sure we’re translating some of the important stuff we see onto the field, the effort areas and all that sort of stuff.
“It’s not going to be too complicated, I don’t think this week.
“But we’ve just got to make sure that those things we have been working on right throughout the pre-season is translating to the games,” Harris says.
Also looking to make a return to the NRL for round one is centre Peta Hiku, who finished last season with a shoulder injury and underwent surgery during the off-season. Kearney wasn’t expecting Hiku to be fit at this stage but is happy that the clubs medical team have been able to get him fit, as well as ensuring the hookers recovered from their shoulder surgeries as well.
“The medical team have done a wonderful job with both the dummy halves, I didn’t expect them back last week, Karl [Lawton] and Wade [Egan] they’ve both come off shoulder surgeries and I didn’t expect them back for the game last week but they both got 20 minutes each.
“And Pet wasn’t expected, he was going to be a real push to get him back this week, but he’ll definitely get some time out there and hopefully put himself in a position to challenge for a spot in round one.”
The Warriors squad for the final trial match against Wests Tigers in Rotorua, kick-off is 2.00 pm Sunday, March 1st
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)
2 PATRICK HERBERT
3 HAYZE PERHAM
4 DAVID FUSITU'A
5 KEN MAUMALO
6 KODI NIKORIMA
7 BLAKE GREEN
8 LEESON AH MAU
9 WAYDE EGAN
10 AGNATIUS PAASI
11 ADAM BLAIR
12 TOHU HARRIS
13 ISAIAH PAPALI'I
14 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA
15 JAMAYNE TAUNOA-BROWN
16 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD
17 KARL LAWTON
18 PAUL TURNER
20 TAANE MILNE
21 JOSH CURRAN
24 PETA HIKU
25 LACHLAN BURR
26 ELIESA KATOA
27 EDWARD KOSI
28 LEIVAHA PULU