Tohu Harris to bring Storm spirit to Warriors
Tohu Harris says he is no saviour but insists if the New Zealand Warriors players buy into the formula that made the Melbourne Storm a powerhouse then better days will be ahead.
The 25-year-old Kiwi international signed in January a four-year deal with the Warriors.
From the outside looking in it was a big call, leaving a heavyweight club for perennial Telstra Premiership underachievers.
Harris, who was born in the North Island city of Hastings, said the reasons for his move were personal and professional.
"It was all about personal growth, trying to become more of a leader and taking a step in that direction," he said.
"There were opportunities to do that at Melbourne but they already had a leadership group there where you didn't really have to take that step up, just because they were there.
"So I've come to the Warriors to challenge myself and grow as a person and a player.
"The change was made easy because my wife [Natalie] and I have a little one and we wanted him to grow up around my family and New Zealand culture.
"To also achieve something at this club that has never been done before would be a dream come true."
Harris, whose last game for Melbourne was in the triumphant grand final side, left a club that has made the finals series every year for the past six seasons and won two premierships along the way for a team that has failed to make the playoffs for six consecutive seasons.
He knows from his Melbourne years what the ingredients for success are.
Harris is impressed with the Warriors' off-season signings such as Adam Blair, Blake Green and Gerard Beale, but issued words of warning.
"You can't just rely on big names or even a group of people for success," he said.
"The effort has got to come from 1 to 30. In the past people have celebrated big signings that the club has made but it may not have turned out.
"There is never one saviour. I know it is not going to take one person to do that and I am not going to be the answer to all of it.
"It will be an effort from every single person at this club that needs to change the club's fortunes around.
"That has been the success of Melbourne where every single person bought in. That is what we need to buy into here."
Harris received no interest from the Warriors as a youth and would likely still be playing locally in New Zealand if not for Melbourne's interest.
"It was a Storm camp that gave me the opportunity to go to Melbourne otherwise I would still be in Hawkes Bay somewhere," Harris said.
"A premiership in my last game was the best way to finish. It would have been hard leaving without being able to achieve that."
There are familiar faces at the Warriors. Harris worked with Kearney at the Kiwis when he was coach and had a close association with new head conditioner Alex Corvo when he was at the Storm.
"There is no way you can't be training and working hard with Alex around. He is big on making sure you do all the little things right that are the building blocks of becoming a successful player and a successful team," Harris said.
"When I first went to Melbourne he was there and he helped me build the base of the player I've had the opportunity to become.
"I think it will be great for the young players and the club as whole that they will have that sort of work ethic built into them."
Kearney believes Harris can be an outstanding role model for his younger teammates.
The man himself explained his own development had been due to mentors he also depended on.
"My wife has been huge for me. We are not big social people so we rely on each other," Harris said.
"She is always challenging me to be a better person and a better player. She knows when I am putting in and when I am not and is my biggest support.
"Professionally, [Storm assistant coach] Adam O'Brien has been my coach at Melbourne every single year I was there. He's been a big factor in my career."