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The foot, the Fus, the frustration: Harris opens up

After more than eight months out due to a serious foot injury, Tohu Harris has been counting the days until his return in the Warriors' final trial against Wests Tigers in Rotorua on Sunday.

A snapped a bone in his foot meant Harris didn't play beyond round 14 last year, with recovery from the subsequent operation also ruling him out of the Kiwis' Test against Australia and home series against Great Britain at the end of the season.

With the injury, which first emerged as a stress fracture in 2016, now fully healed, Harris has been named to start in the second row against the Tigers in what is the strongest available Warriors side.

"Sunday can't come quick enough really … it's been a long time between games," Harris said.

"I just want to get out there. I have been doing a lot of training.

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"It was frustrating at the time, but it's been really good being able to do most of the pre-season and being back out on the field."

Entering his third season with the Warriors after moving from the Storm, improved health isn't the only reason to believe the 28-year-old is set for a big year.

While last season he was asked to play in the second row on both sides of the field, and even spent some time in the halves, in 2020 Harris is expected to be a mainstay of the right edge where he will form a new combination with David Fusitu'a, who has switched from wing to centre.

"I've been training on the right a lot of the time this year," Harris said.

"All my time at the Storm was pretty much on the left edge, my first year here was on the right and then last year was a bit of both.

"[David] has been really good, especially defensively, his decision-making has been really good.

"Our edges have been swapping around and working different combos, so it hasn’t always been 'Fus' there, but in the times that we have been on the same edge he's been really good."

After a tough 2019 campaign which netted him only five tries in 16 games on the wing, Fusitu'a is excited by the move to centre and hopes it will increase his involvement in attack.

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"The first training of the year [Stephen Kearney] just said 'I want you to move in one more position and give it a shot there and I think you can make the transition'," Fusitu'a said.

"I think I'll just get a bit more hands on the ball. I'll have to make a few more tackles, on the wing you don't have to do too much defence, but it'll be good to get my hands on the ball."

Kearney said his side showed glimpses of the now much-discussed tweaks they have made to their attack in last week's 18-16 trial loss to Melbourne, but with his first-choice spine back on deck his expectations will increase this weekend. 

Kodi Nikorima has been named to start ahead of impressive youngster Chanel Harris-Tavita at five-eighth, while off-season recruit Wayde Egan gets the nod at hooker with Karl Lawton on the bench as his back-up.

"There were parts of it [against the Storm] where you could see what we've been working on during the pre-season come to life," Kearney said.

"There will be adjustments that we make to it.

"I think the personnel that we have out there this week will certainly enhance that."

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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