After appearing in 30 top-flight games in a season which stretched over 10 months for him last year, James Fisher-Harris could have been forgiven for thinking about giving this week’s NRL Harvey Norman All Stars clash a miss.
In total the 27-year-old’s workload last year included over 4300 running metres and 908 tackles, as he helped the Panthers to a second-straight Telstra Premiership title, in addition to earning representative honours with the Māori All Stars and Kiwis.
But Fisher-Harris, who will co-captain the Māori on Saturday alongside fellow big man Joseph Tapine, said the thought of sitting out the 2022 All Stars event on home soil never entered his mind.
“Every year I want to play this game. It means a lot to me and that’s why I am here; to me it’s pretty simple,” he said.
“I have had the same pre-season the last three years, the same break. I am fortunate to have made three Grand Finals in a row which has meant my pre-season has been pushed back a bit.
“It is a pretty brutal game, very physical, but this will be something pretty special.
We always wanted this to happen in New Zealand and it’s finally here, so we have just got to embrace it and enjoy it, because you don’t know when it’ll be back here.James Fisher-Harris
With three All Stars appearances under his belt, Fisher-Harris is very much a veteran in a side set to be made up predominantly of players who have less than 50 NRL games to their name.
“Some of those boys got called up late, but they are here for a reason and I think they’ll step up for the jersey and find that confidence,” Fisher-Harris said.
Harvey Norman All Stars wrap - Day 2
“I’ll just do what I do and try and help them out where I can.
“I have done this a couple of times now, so I know what to expect.”
Match: Maori v Indigenous
Round 1 -
Venue: Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
On Saturday night Fisher-Harris will fly the flag for Te Rarawa as their sole representative in the men’s side, while he’ll be one of six players in his side with links to Ngāpuhi.