New Warriors coach Andrew Webster was convinced Tohu Harris would be his captain in 2023 before he even arrived at the club late last year, but at the insistence of the veteran forward waited until this week to officially make the decision.
Harris, 31, will remain in the role he assumed from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at the end of the 2021 season, but only after first asking Webster to judge him on his actions through pre-season training.
“Tohu didn’t want it handed to him. He said ‘Webby I want to earn this, I want you to have a look at me, I want the staff to look at me, I want the players to judge me and see if you think I’m the right person,” Webster said.
“I’ve seen nothing but that he is the right person.
“When I had the first phone conversation with Tohu I was impressed by his passion and what he wanted for the club.”
Tough Tohu's terrific captain's knock
Along with the captaincy decision, Webster also shed light on how he intends to use new recruits Marata Niukore and Mitchell Barnett this coming season.
Despite the Warriors’ recent struggles in the position, and his experience playing there for the Eels last season, Niukore won’t play centre and will instead move between edge and middle forward roles.
That will be the case for former Knights enforcer Barnett as well, with Webster keen to use both players in different parts of the field depending on how games are unfolding.
“He [Niukore] won’t play centre. He’ll only play centre if something goes on halfway through a game, and I see Dylan Walker playing that [back-up centre] role anyway,” Webster said.
Niukore grabs another on the bell
“He’s a good option there and I understand why Parramatta has done that in the past, but right now a guy like Dylan in the No.14 will be perfect for that role.
I think Barny will play both [edge and middle]. He’s versatile, he’s done both, and when you have that versatility, it gives you an edge as a team.Andrew Webster
“He can play hard and lock off the middle and also play on an edge and be calm and comfortable. He brings us great depth.”
Meanwhile Webster confirmed the club remains on the hunt for a front-rower to add to their squad, following the departure of veteran Ben Murdoch-Masila to the Dragons earlier this month.
It follows the club also granting prop Aaron Pene an early release to go back to the Storm, leaving the Kiwi side light on options up front.
The Warriors have two spots still open in their top 30, with fullback Taine Tuaupiki, who was Queensland’s Hostplus Cup’s player of the year in 2022, the only train and trial player on the books right now.
“We will replace Benny with a front-rower at some stage… [but] you can’t panic and go and find just someone for the sake of it," Webster said.
“Depth wise we are happy. I am happy with the squad. I think they are going good.”