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Halfback to the future: Harris-Tavita ready to step into starring role

Chanel Harris-Tavita was back in the No.7 Warriors jersey in round 13 following Blake Green's departure, putting in a performance that drew heady praise from interim coach Todd Payten.

Harris-Tavita dealt with his round-three demotion from the starting side, plus his stints as a bench hooker as well as his recall with class, setting up a crucial try in the 26-22 win over Manly with Payten labelling him "the future of this club".

"I knew in the back of my head what position I wanted to play long term and that's halfback but I was willing to do whatever to be in the team and play every week," Harris-Tavita said.

"That's my first game playing with Kodi in the halves. He really took a lot of pressure off me, he kicked well, set up a couple of tries and made it a lot easier for me to do my job.

"Moving forward I'll try and take some pressure off Kodi and get a combination going."

Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Warriors

Payten praised the young halfback's attitude.

"He was champing at the bit at Monday's training session," he said.

"There's a real spark in him. He got demoted in round three when we resumed. He was really professional and he worked really hard on his game.

"He came in and played a game against the Storm for 70 minutes at hooker and held his gloves up really well. He filled in at hooker off the bench, played half on another occasion.

Warriors halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita.
Warriors halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"I really admire the kid because he's tough and works hard. He's the future of this club."

In a season where the Warriors have been widely praised for their sacrifices to keep the competition running – and rightly so – they have not been generally considered as a team likely to threaten for a finals spot.

However, Harris-Tavita rejected the idea his club was just making up the numbers or viewing round 20 as the finish line. With five wins, they are ahead of five clubs and just two wins adrift of eighth spot.

"We've just got to look to improve, there's still a few rounds to go and we want to push for that top eight," Harris-Tavita said.

"We've got a really strong culture at the moment. With everything happening this week we've turned up ... the boys were outstanding [against Manly].

"Patty Herbert and George Jennings, they started our sets well which is really pleasing to see. We can take a lot of confidence from this win.

"We saw last week, I wasn't playing but the boys did an outstanding job against the Tigers. When times get tough like they did [against Manly], we know we've got the ability to close a game down.

"We don't have all our players here, we've got a few in rehab, we've got a couple of loan players starting for us.

"There's a lot happening off the field that we don't have control over so we try to just focus our mindset on our individual jobs."

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The club's recent back-to-back wins came after a turning point in the players' mental approach.

"There was a defining moment a few weeks back, we realised we don't have control over the borders closing or whether families can come over.

"We just wanted to put all our energy into our little circle that we have and it's been paying off for us.

"I don't have anyone over here but there's a few other boys doing that as well and we're pretty close so if we need to talk to anyone we just go and see one of the boys."

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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