Sprinting for the corner with friends and family in the stands, Nathan Harris looked set to mark a dream starting debut with a stunning try.

While that wasn't meant to be - courtesy of the untimely intervention of the TMO - the 22-year-old hooker was still able to reflect on a memorable milestone after the win over the Lions.

"I was privileged to even get the ball," he said. "But I was so happy - I was over the moon.

"It was pretty gutting, but we got the win and I'll take a win every day over scoring a try."


It was a run that deserved reward for Harris, receiving the ball about 25 metres out, showing-and-going before displaying the requisite speed and power to hold off the cover defence and dot down.

The celebrations were exuberant and the television review seemed a formality - until a questionable obstruction was called on prop Josh Hohneck in back play. That ended the fairytale and left one front rower in debt of another.

"We had a bit of a joke after the game," Harris said. "I've got nothing on him so he might sort of have to scratch my back."

The pair were able to joke after their team clinched a comprehensive victory, one built on an attacking outburst from the backline. But the backs can shine only if a foundation is laid up front, a task in which Harris was instrumental.

Much has been made of the Chiefs' lineout struggles this season, ranking at the bottom of the competition in success rate for the set piece. But Harris showed an assuredness that belied his years, helping his side to eight wins from nine with a flat and accurate throw.

"We've been tinkering with a few things lately and we just got our backs some good ball," Harris said of the lineout. "We've been simplifying it and obviously it worked well."

Harris' performance provides Dave Rennie a welcome selection headache ahead of the showdown with the Blues. Mahonri Schwalger was equally impressive the previous week before being forced off through concussion, while the coaches have praised Rhys Marshall.

"[Harris] was really good around the track, a big work ethic, made a lot of tackles," Rennie said. "The set piece was pretty strong and he'll be chuffed with his first start."

It would have been even more pleasing considering Harris was initially facing a season without Super Rugby, until Hika Elliott's long-term neck injury saw the Chiefs needing a replacement.

"Thinking that I wasn't even going to be a part of the Chiefs this year, I'm pretty honoured to represent my family and the Bay of Plenty. It was a big moment for myself."