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Milestone men reflect on NRL careers

When the Penrith Panthers run out onto the field to face the Wests Tigers at Commbank Stadium on Sunday afternoon, James Fisher-Harris and Matt Eisenhuth will celebrate their 150th and 100th game milestones respectively.

In the absence of Isaah Yeo and Nathan Cleary, Fisher-Harris will captain the team alongside Dylan Edwards after coach Ivan Cleary made the decision to rest all seven of Penrith’s Origin stars following the mid-week decider.

Although he hasn't put much thought towards it, Fisher-Harris is looking forward to notching his career milestone for Panthers on Sunday.

"I’m grateful to play every single game and this is just another one for me,” he said.

Milestone men staying focused on the job

The 2021 Dally M Prop of the Year has been recognised for his talent numerous times throughout his career, being named in the Dally M Team of the Year twice, receiving the Merv Cartwright Medal in 2019 and having the opportunity to play for Māori All Stars and the New Zealand Kiwis more recently.

“Those two teams are pretty special to me, as well as Panthers, but to represent where I’m from and who I am is probably the highest [achievement] for me, Fisher-Harris said.

Especially for all the little Māori kids back home in New Zealand, they’re looking up to me. I just try to do them proud.


Three weeks ago, Fisher-Harris’ New Zealand Kiwis team defeated Mate Ma’a Tonga 26-6 in a return to international football at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. He hopes that the NRL continue to endorse international rugby league events following the World Cup.

“I’ve been missing international footy for a bit, even going back home to New Zealand. It was a really special occasion," he said.

“All my family are still back home, so they support [me] when they can, but I’ve got my own little tribe over here now, my missus and little kids.”

For Eisenhuth, the opportunity to notch up his 100th game milestone against the club he played at for four years is a strange coincidence, but nonetheless a rewarding one.

“It’s pretty special actually, my last probably 10 or 15 games have been the hardest to come by, but I guess that’s the nature of the beast when you’re at such a successful club with such good players,” Eisenhuth said.

“I’ve had to work hard my whole career so to get 100 it’s something no one can ever take away from me.

Matt Eisenhuth notches 100 NRL games

“It is definitely a big step up, it’s something I’m pretty much used to. You’ve got to be able to adapt to that.

“You go back to playing NSW Cup and sometimes it feels like it’s harder because the ruck control is really different, but in grade you trust that the process is going to be right because you’re playing at the highest level.”

Coming back to Penrith has given the 29-year-old a new understanding of the game, with the coaching staff identifying characteristics of his game that he could improve on that hadn’t otherwise been noticed.

“The training levels [here] are different. Everyone individually feels more responsibility and there’s actually so much more to it than one would think,” Eisenhuth explained.

Now is the time to rest Origin stars: Cleary

“Little things that you probably didn’t think were important are brought to your attention here and then you’ve got to start really working on it at training, which will give you good results in the game too.”

A family man, Eisenhuth can’t wait to share the memory with his two-year-old son Max and wife Holly who have supported him throughout his journey.

“That’s probably the most special thing when I think about it. He [Max] can be a part of it this weekend and then we can look back on it when he’s a bit older. But for my wife, she’s been on this rollercoaster with me since I was 15, I’ve known her for almost half my life so that’s a pretty big thing as well.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.