NRL: NZ Kiwis captain James Fisher-Harris released by Penrith Panthers to join NZ Warriors from 2025

NZ Kiwis captain James Fisher-Harris has been released early from his Penrith Panthers NRL contract to join NZ Warriors from 2025.

The front-rower - one of the most feared enforcers in rugby league - will effectively replace Dally M Prop of the Year Addin Fonua-Blake, who will leave the Auckland club this year to return to Sydney and Cronulla Sharks.

Fisher-Harris, 28, will see out the current campaign for the three-time defending NRL champions, but will return to New Zealand on compassionate grounds and join the Warriors on a four-year deal.

James Fisher-Harris leads the Kiwis haka.
James Fisher-Harris leads the Kiwis haka. Photo credit: Photosport

"We're absolutely delighted to be able to sign James," said Warriors chief executive Cam George. "It's a huge signing for us, undoubtedly one of the biggest in our club's history.

"To be able to add a player of his calibre and standing to our squad is a tremendous boost for 2025 and beyond. He's such a highly respected player and leader."

Northland-born Fisher-Harris has played 183 NRL games for Penrith, since debuting in 2016, and has been a mainstay of their recent run of championships, named Dally M Prop of the Year in 2020 and 2021.

He has also played 15 tests for the Kiwis and led them to an upset 30-0 win over world champions Australia in last year's inaugural Pacific Championship final. As a result, he was awarded the Golden Boot, as international player of the year.

His move to the Warriors will re-unite him with coach Andrew Webster, who was previously an assistant at the Panthers.

"It's going to be fantastic having James with us," said Webster. "He's one of the game's elite players, a super-tough forward, who sets and demands the highest standards.

"I loved working with him at the Panthers and we really look forward to bringing him into our system from next season. He'll add terrific value to our roster, to the club overall and he'll also be invaluable as a mentor for our young players coming through."

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary is sad to see Fisher-Harris go.

"Fish has been exceptional for the Panthers, both on and off the field," he said. "The leadership and cultural impact he has displayed since coming into first grade has been outstanding.

"He's evolved into one of the game's elite players and coaching him has been a pleasure.

"While we would have loved him to stay at the Panthers, we wish him, partner Natalie, and children Tahira and Deon all the best for their next chapter."

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