Chanel Harris-Tavita has long been touted as the Warriors playmaker of the future.
A young half with vision, a strong running game and kicking ability, the former Pakuranga Jaguars junior impressed in under-20s and has continued to do so in reserve grade. And with Warriors coach Stephen Kearney looking for something different from his team on Friday against the Gold Coast Titans, Harris-Tavita has been given his shot in first grade.
"He's a confident kid," Warriors assistant coach Tony Iro said. "He'll have a crack at everything. I don't think he'll be fazed by [the step up]. He's got some good experienced players around him and I'm sure he'll enjoy the experience."
Battling with Adam Keighran for the starting role alongside Blake Green in the halves this year, Harris-Tavita has spent the opening three weeks playing in reserve grade, but will replace Keighran in the No6 jersey this week.
Harris-Tavita, who celebrated his 20th birthday this week, will be right in the action on Friday night and is likely to find himself as a target for Titans ball runners. The visitors possess a strong, physical forward pack led by Kiwis star Kevin Proctor and State of Origin representatives Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace who will be looking to set the tone for their side.
The Warriors have been lacking in physicality since their opening round win over the Canterbury Bulldogs, and with Harris-Tavita in the firing line they'll need to step up on defence as the young half leads the ineffective tackle count at reserve grade.
Iro said they were expecting the Titans to run at Harris-Tavita and had been preparing accordingly.
"He's going to be under a lot of pressure," Iro said.
"He's a kid who will put his body on the line and I'm sure he'll be doing his best to make all his tackles.
"He does back himself and ultimately, for a player on debut, that's all you can ask for."
Harris-Tavita has shown flashes of what he's capable of at every level he's played at, with his ability to run a play off the cuff highlighted by a scorpion kick turned try assist for the Junior Kiwis against the Junior Kangaroos late last year.
"We're hoping we don't need him to pull that one out," Iro said.
Warriors team to play the Titans at Mt Smart Stadium, Friday 8pm kickoff: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitu'a, Peta Hiku, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Blake Green, Agnatius Paasi, Karl Lawton, Leeson Ah Mau, Isaiah Papali'i, Tohu Harris, Adam Blair. Interchange: Jazz Tevaga, Bunty Afoa, Lachlan Burr, Ligi Sao, Gerard Beale, Leivaha Pulu, Adam Keighran, Blake Ayshford (four to be omitted).
Titans: Michael Gordon, Anthony Don, Tyrone Peachey, Brian Kelly, Dale Copley, Tyrone Roberts, Ash Taylor, Jarrod Wallace, Mitch Rein, Ryan James, Kevin Proctor, Bryce Cartwright, Jai Arrow. Interchange: Alexander Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika, Shannon Boyd, Keegan Hipgrave, Max King, Phillip Sami, Ryley Jacks, Jai Whitbread (four to be omitted).