Panthers' gentle giant dreaming big
Penrith Panthers back-rower James Fisher-Harris is hopeful of making the Kiwis squad for the end of season Four Nations tournament.
At just 20 years old, Fisher-Harris has made a terrific start to his NRL career with a string of barnstorming performances in his debut season.
From a tiny village on New Zealand's North Island, Fisher-Harris left behind his native Kohukahu and its 150 inhabitants three years ago in hope of an NRL berth.
To put that into comparison, there were a similar number of people present at the Panthers Rugby League Academy on Wednesday during Penrith's open media and fan day.
It's an overwhelming point for Fisher-Harris, and while he was hopeful of making his debut at some point this year he didn't expect to feature in 22 NRL games and counting.
Now the softly-spoken Fisher-Harris is hopeful of going from the Junior Kiwis to New Zealand's first-choice team in the space of 12 months.
He also confirmed he had been in contact with former Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney before Kearney signed with the New Zealand Warriors this week.
"The Kiwis is the pinnacle for me. It's the ultimate goal so I'm hoping to make it," Fisher-Harris told NRL.com.
"(Kearney) told me I was going well with my transition from the under-20s to the NRL and said to keep up the good work and stuff like that.
"I definitely was a bit excited by his call. At that moment I thought to myself that I just had to keep going the way I've been going and get better every week.
"I've been riding a wave all season and taking everything as it has come.
"Everything has happened so quickly and it's all so surreal."
Fisher-Harris refused to compliment just one of his teammates when asked who has helped him the most in his development throughout the season.
"Everyone has actually helped this year to be honest in terms of my confidence. They all tell me to keep doing what I'm doing. Even the wingers," Fisher-Harris said.
"There's not one person who hasn't helped me out. Everyone has really taken me under their wing and given me confidence."
Ahead of the Panthers' semi-final against the Raiders on Saturday night, Fisher-Harris said he was still sore from his side's last-start 28-12 win over the Bulldogs but that nothing would stop him from giving the Green Machine hell in front of their boisterous home crowd.
"When it comes to crunch time all the boys are ready to go but it's good to switch off during the week," Fisher-Harris said.
"I'm expecting anything and everything when it comes to the Raiders. I'll be leaving everything out on the field
"Every game seems to get harder. But it's exciting and I'm loving every minute of it."
Game on. Data off.
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