Two games into his 11th season, Tohu Harris is in the form of his life and needs just one four-letter word to explain why.
It’s the word that captures the total essence for the 31-year-old One New Zealand Warriors as he eyes his milestone 200th NRL appearance.
It’s the word that represented what he missed above all during the club’s three difficult years based in Australia due to the Covid pandemic.
And it’s the same word that now accounts for the palpable joy he is deriving from leading the club in its 29th campaign.
While Harris is renowned for maintaining such enviable standards in terms of consistency and productivity he has been at another level in his first 160 minutes in battle.
In round one he ran for 145 metres from 18 runs and made a game-high 51 tackles with only two misses. A week later he made 144 metres from 15 runs (including a team-high 62 post-contact metres) and added phenomenal 60 tackles (game’s best again) with just one miss.
He has literally hit the ground running, looking every bit a rejuvenated footballer. Likewise off the field where Harris has grown exponentially as leader.
And it all comes back to that one word when asked for a reason.
“Home,” he says.
“It’s just being back here.
“As a family we were struggling the first couple of years here because we moved around places in Auckland. We couldn’t get that sense of community and, of course, then we were over in Australia for three years.
“So coming back now we’re finally living in our own home and we’ve been accepted into our own little community.”
Auckland mightn’t be home in the truest sense for Harris but it certainly feels every bit like it now and makes the world of difference to his perspective on life.
Which has him primed to lead the club again in not just the One New Zealand Warriors’ third match of the 2023 season but, more significantly, the 200th game of his career.
“I know it’s a pretty special milestone and I feel really fortunate to have played this many games,” he said this week.
“I haven’t thought about (the significance) of it too much. It’s probably something I’ll do later in my career or after I’ve finished.
“I’ve been fortunate to play in some memorable games and even other players’ milestones with the likes of Cooper (Cronk) and Billy (Slater), Simon Mannering’s 300th, winning a grand final with Melbourne and making my debut for the Storm in the World Club Challenge.
“There are so many to look back on and the most recent was the homecoming last year. That was special to be a part of, coming back to Auckland finally and hearing how much it meant to all the fans and the people here at the club.”
While Harris himself isn’t inclined to be overly reflective just now about what has gone before in his career, others have been doing it for him.
There’s a tinge of disappointment that it’s 200th because bad luck with injuries has denied him the chance of being much further down the track.
He played so much football in his first four seasons with the Storm, amazingly missing just one of a possible 104 games.
Since then the injury gods have been unkind. He appeared in each of the One New Zealand Warriors’ 20 games in the Covid-shortened 2020 season but has been forced to miss almost 50 games in since his first four years with the Storm.
It hasn’t stopped him sustaining a remarkable work rate, even more with the One New Zealand Warriors where he averages 130 metres and 38 tackles a game compared to his overall career averages of 121 metres and 33 tackles a game.
Tohu Harris has deservedly been the centre of attention throughout the week including a special presentation of his 200th jersey on Wednesday and a strong media focus along the way.
Come tomorrow afternoon his mind won’t be on the number 200. It’ll be on doing his job, on the detail he needs to get right and, in every likelihood, that will translate into another 80-minute all-out performance, one which will hopefully add a glittering 200th page to his career story.
|2013||25||2528 (101.12)||726 (29.04)|
|2014||25||2572 (103.00)||604 (24.16)|
|2015||26||3075 (118.28)||831 (31.96)|
|2016||27||3600 (133.36)||824 (30.51)|
|2017||14||1632 (116.00)||428 (30.57)|
|2018||17||1982 (116.00)||588 (34.58)|
|2019||13||1439 (110.00)||421 (32.38)|
|2020||20||3465 (173)||845 (42.25)|
|2021||15||1555 (103.00)||620 (41.33)|
|2022||15||1967 (131.00)||540 (36.00)|
|2023||2||289 (144.50)||111 (55.55)|
|Melbourne||117||13,410 (114.61)||3413 (29.17)|
|Warriors||82||10,697 (130.45)||3125 (38.10)|
|CAREER||199||24,107 (121.14)||6538 (32.85)|