Chanel Harris-Tavita is no overnight sensation.

The Warriors rookie is barely out of his teens (he turned 20 last week), still lives at home, and is surely the only player in the NRL wearing braces, but his rise through the league ranks has been steady and sure.

Harris-Tavita impressed many with his assured debut last Friday. He got more involved as the match progressed, was willing to run the ball and exhibited touches of flair and deception.

Sure, it was off the back of a dominant team performance against a limited Titans team, but the way he handled the occasion showed potential.


But his promise is the product of years of hard work, as well as strong league bloodlines.

Harris-Tavita was turning heads as a 14-year-old at Richmond Rovers, as wise footy heads on the sidelines at Grey Lynn park saw hints of something special.

He also impressed at club level for Howick, Mt Wellington and Pakurunga, and was drafted into the Warriors' system midway through high school.

That early potential was confirmed in 2016, when he became the youngest player in the club's history to turn out for the Under-20 side, making his debut on his 17th birthday, the first day he was eligible for the NYC competition.

Harris-Tavita was also a talented touch rugby player — representing Counties Manukau — but league was always an inevitable path, especially given his family history.

Both his grandfathers played representative league. Ray Harris, was an astute half for Mt Wellington and turned out for Auckland, while George Tavita was a hard running prop who also donned the famous blue jersey with the white V.

Chanel's father Jason also made Auckland representative teams as a junior, and has been coaching a club level for many years.

Harris-Tavita has two strong years for the Junior Warriors, before moving up to reserve grade last year, where he was named in the NSW Cup team of the year.

"He has always had strong parts to his game but a full season playing against men was really important for him," observed Warriors half Blake Green. "I think he learnt about the importance of turning up every week and being consistent."

The next jump came from the recent pre-season, his first as an NRL player. It's always a big adjustment — both physically and mentally — and it wasn't always easy, but Harris-Tavita showed the right attitude and aptitude.

"One of the main things I noticed is that he is really coachable," said Green. "Anytime that Stacey [Jones] or 'Mooks' (Kearney) or Todd Payten shows him some video or gives him a bit of feedback on something he sits down, takes it in, and makes a change.

"If there was something to fix in a certain area of his game — that the coaches had identified — he would work really hard and later you would see the improvement."

Harris-Tavita enjoyed a special debut, when started when he was presented with his jersey by his younger siblings — with the rest of the family watching on — and was capped by a solid performance.

He's softly spoken off the field, typical for someone just out of their teens, but that belies a steely resolve on it, which was shown last week when he overcalled Green on a few occasions, as the Warriors found some joy down the left edge.

Harris-Tavita is a capable defender, but will be tested today against a physical Rabbitohs team. He's also need to improve his option taking and increase his general involvement, but that will come with time.

"You can tell he has stepped up over the pre-season and his maturity level has gone through the roof," said Warriors hooker Karl Lawton, who played alongside him in the ISP team for most of last year.

"He's impressed a lot of people as a young fella. He's had a bit of pressure on him, getting thrown in quite early, and there was a lot of talk about how he was going to go and if he was going to do the job. I think he proved to everyone that he can do it."