Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: Kiwis forward James Fisher-Harris spends tour time shopping

James Fisher-Harris of New Zealand is tackled by Brett Phillips of Scotland during their Four Nations match. Photo / Getty
James Fisher-Harris of New Zealand is tackled by Brett Phillips of Scotland during their Four Nations match. Photo / Getty

James Fisher-Harris has spent of much of this Kiwis tour in shopping malls.

The young Penrith forward, who made his debut against Scotland last week, arrived in the UK with not much more than the clothes on his back.

Fisher-Harris was a late, late call-up to the Kiwis squad, after Simon Mannering was scratched at the last minute when he failed to recover in time from a knee operation.

The 20-year-old was back in his small Northland hometown of Kohukohu, when he received the call.

He had to rush down to Auckland to join the team, and only had summer clothes with him, with all of his winter attire back in Sydney.

"I was always going to do some shopping here but I've had to do a lot more," laughed Fisher-Harris. "But it's all good."

While the Kiwis have been mostly fortunate with the weather, temperatures plunged to near zero in Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh and Carlisle.

"He sort of had no clothes, he had his bush clothes," laughed team mate Te Maire Martin.

"He was heading home when he got the call up [and] he has been hitting a lot of shops over here."

One of four rookies on display in Workington, Fisher-Harris had a solid start to his international career. He attacked the Scottish line with gusto, and made an impact on the edge of the ruck. Fisher-Harris was targeted at times by the Scottish pack, jolting the ball free at one stage, but he showed his mettle to rebound from that and finish strongly.

"Obviously the result wasn't great but I was stoked to make my debut," said Fisher-Harris.

"It's been a dream all my life."

A precocious talent, Fisher-Harris could have a long future in the black and white V, though he is an outside shot to make the 17 for the final, with Manu Ma'u likely to be preferred as a back-up second row option on the bench.

Fisher-Harris has come a long way in a remarkably short time. He grew up in the tiny Northland settlement of Kohukohu (population around 150), on the northern banks of the Hokianga Harbour. There is a general store, a pub, a primary school and a couple of churches. And no league, which meant Fisher-Harris played rugby until he was 15, when he went to boarding school in Whangarei and first tasted the 13 man code.

"I fell in love with [league]," said Fisher-Harris. "I loved getting more ball, [getting] one-on-one more."

He made 23 appearances for the Panthers in 2016, starting the last 10 games of the season as Penrith made their run to the finals. He scored five tries, averaged more than 22 tackles and 65 running metres a game and made a big impression for a rookie.

"He's really quiet and humble but that changes on the field," said Martin. "He is really aggressive, tackles hard. That's what most coaches want from a forward and that's what he brings."

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- NZ Herald

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