Rugby league: Veteran NZ Warriors forward Tohu Harris hopes for May NRL return after ACL injury

New Zealand Warriors captain Tohu Harris is on the mend and hopeful of a May return to the NRL.

The hulking second-rowers 2021 campaign ended in July when he suffered an ACL tear against Penrith Panthers.

Harris is deep into his 10-month recovery program having had surgery in July and is close to returning to contact training.

"It's been on track so far," Harris tells AAP.

"I've been able to get some running in on the field and it feels good to stretch the legs.

"I've got to be patient, I'm not too sure of the timeline because I'll try and push things.

"I think the only one that we are going off is the nine-month mark. That's the guideline of when you return from an ACL injury.

"There are cases where you can come back earlier. The nine-month mark for me is about mid-May so somewhere around round eight in the season."

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: Tohu Harris of the Warriors is helped off the field during the round 18 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium, on July 18, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty Images

The Kiwis international is a key cog in a Warriors pack which was strengthened with 2020 additions Addin Fonua-Blake and Matt Lodge.

Former Melbourne Storm forward Aaron Pene is the latest recruit, giving the Warriors some much-needed firepower after the loss of the erratic Kane Evans and promising Jamayne Taunoa-Brown.

The focus for the 2022 season is very much on making the finals for the first time in four years, with the potential of six games at home at the backend of the season could prove pivotal in the playoff chase.

Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium hasn't hosted the Warriors since 2019, but June's showdown with the Panthers will hopefully prove a welcome homecoming - if New Zealand's borders remain open.

"All the players and staff are excited about being at Mt Smart again," Harris adds.

"I can't even remember the last time we played there. It's been a long time coming.

"It'll be great to have a game in front of our fans, I'm just looking forward to the fans and the roar as we run out. I think it's going to be huge."