Although it slipped under the radar, the Warriors' signing of Tohu Harris is one of their most important pieces of business in recent years.

Harris' capture was overshadowed by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's surprise elevation to the captaincy at Mt Smart, the subsequent demotion of Ryan Hoffman and the buildup to the Auckland NRL Nines.

It probably suited Harris - given his understated nature - but didn't reflect the implications of the move.

Harris is the real deal and the kind of signing the Warriors should always aspire to, but haven't managed much over the past decade.


Look at the track record of trumpeted deals in the past. Dane Nielsen didn't live up to expectations, Todd Lowrie was a journeyman and Jayson Bukuya gave the impression he couldn't wait to get back to Sydney. Sam Tomkins never lived up to his price tag and Feleti Mateo was maddeningly inconsistent.

Harris, who will join the Mt Smart club in 2018, ticks the boxes. He's a a proven performer and about to come into his prime. He is still only 25 years old, but has played more than 100 NRL games as well as 16 tests for the Kiwis. He's durable - rarely injured - and has the happy knack of producing a similar level every week.

His value is shown by the fact that the Storm desperately wanted to keep him, and coach Craig Bellamy doesn't usually lose those battles.

Harris' move also signals a show of faith in the new Warriors regime, under the control of Jim Doyle and Stephen Kearney. To step away from the Storm environment, who are almost guaranteed to be in the finals every year, is a significant move.

"Coming home to play for the Warriors is a fantastic opportunity," said Harris. "The club has a great roster with so many Kiwi boys there and being back in New Zealand closer to family is a big attraction. I also have great respect for Mooks [Kearney] through my time with him in the Kiwis and I look forward to working with him again."

Not all players thrive outside the Storm system - Nielsen and Lowrie are good examples - but there should be no such fears about Harris. He is shown his value with the Kiwis; Harris was the best player on the 2015 tour of England and has generally been a consistent performer for his country, apart from when he was played out of position in the backline.

Harris went to Melbourne as a 17-year-old in 2010. Many other New Zealand teenage league prospects have failed to adjust to life in the big Australian cities but Harris thrived.

He scored 25 tries in 49 games for the Storm's Under-20 side and made his first grade debut in round one of the 2013 season. By May 2010 he was an international, in the Kiwis' 32-12 Anzac test loss to the Kangaroos.

Harris has barely missed a game for the Storm over the past four years. In his 27 matches in 2016 he averaged more than 126 running metres and 28 tackles a game.