NRL 2019: Warriors beware, wounded Cowboys pose serious threat - Tohu Harris

Warriors forward Tohu Harris.
Warriors forward Tohu Harris. Photo credit: Getty

Beware the wounded Cowboys.

That's the message Tohu Harris is delivering to the Warriors before their crunch NRL showdown this weekend.

North Queensland have lost four straight since an opening round win against the St George Dragons, leaving them above only the Bulldogs on the competition ladder.

The 2015 NRL champions have struggled to find a replacement for retired legend Johnathan Thurston, with Kiwis international Te Maire Martin and youngster Jake Clifford failing to make a serious impact alongside Michael Morgan.

To top off their 2019 woes, influential forward Jason Taumalolo hasn't been seen since round two, suffering a serious knee injury that has him on the shelf for three months.

But with a forward pack featuring quality players Coen Hess, Gavin Cooper, Jake Granville, Jordan McLean and Matthew Scott, Harris is wary that a turnaround in fortunes is just one game away.

"No game is easy and you have to prepare for each game equally by working as hard as you can," Harris told Newshub.

"They are in a similar position to us. They have experience and they are a great side.

"Their forward pack is stacked with representatives. We are expecting a super tough game - they will come up very hard and away from home, they could build confidence if they start well against us.

"It can be hard to stop that momentum, so we need to expect that."

The Warriors have battled inconsistency in 2019, winning two of their five games, but suffering a heartbreaking loss to South Sydney last week.

The New Zealand club led 24-12 with less than 20 minutes remaining, but three last-quarter tries for the Rabbitohs consigned the Warriors to a third loss of the season.

Harris believes they were their own worst enemies, failing to close the game out, once they had built a winning lead.

"We didn't action what we wanted to do - we went away from what got us into such a great position to begin with. Souths were good enough to come back and get that win at the very end."

Losing influential playmaker Blake Green minutes before kick-off didn't help matters. The former Manly five-eighth had been a shining light in the first month of the season, but went down with a groin complaint during the warm-up.

Harris was impressed with young Chanel Harris-Tavita, who guided the team around the park with the confidence of an NRL veteran.

Harris noted that other experienced players failed to take the reins normally reserved for Green.

"He's [Harris-Tavita] performing really well for someone with only two games' experience.

"He's done a really good job for us and hopefully he can continue with that sort of consistency for the rest of the season.

"Blake takes a lot of the control over what we do when he is out there on the field.

"When he is not there, there is a group of us that need to take on that responsibility and help each other out.

"He makes a big impact on our team, but again, I still feel we should have got the job done without him.

"We just didn't do the right things in that last 20 minutes."

But Harris is confident the club can scrap its way out of the bottom half of the table and contend for a playoff spot for the second year straight.

The former Melbourne Storm star is a six-year NRL veteran, after playing 118 games for super-coach Craig Bellamy from 2013-17.

Harris has started seasons poorly before and knows what it takes to break a form slump.

"The only way to get over it, the only way forward is to work hard and hopefully, by me going out there and showing that at training, it shows the guys that this is the way forward in this competition.

"You really learn about what type of person you are and what type of team you are, and how resilient you are as a team.

"When you go through hard times, it's about finding how you work your way out and that's where these learnings about yourself come from."

The Warriors host the Cowboys in Auckland on Saturday night.

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