Penrith rookie firebrand James Fisher-Harris holds no fear for the much-vaunted Canterbury pack – in fact, he’s ready to take them on.
The quietly-spoken Kiwi was a shock call-up to the Panthers squad in last week’s season-opening loss to Canberra, replacing experienced countryman Elijah Taylor on the bench.
He played just 18 minutes in the defeat, but it was enough to draw comparisons to former league enforcer Gorden Tallis, a former Australian and Queensland star best remembered for his aggressive approach.
It’s a comparison Fisher-Harris says he’s not only proud to wear, but embrace.
“It makes me feel pretty proud of myself because he was a big hitter and aggressive guy when he used to play. I just try and do my best,” he said.
Asked if he was as angry as Tallis was, he said: “Probably not, but I try bring aggression onto the field when I come on. You’ve just got to maintain your anger and just stick to the rules.”
The Panthers will need every inch of his bravado against a Bulldogs engine room that reminded the competition that no reduction in interchange will stop them from rolling through the middle in 2016.
Led by skipper James Graham, their monster pack destroyed Manly’s frail insides in their season-opener last week, showing off a fitness base that had many proclaiming as the best in the league.
But none of that would instil fear into Fisher-Harris.
“I’ve always been a ‘little grown up’, playing against bigger guys. I’m pretty keen to take them on. Hopefully I get the gig on Thursday night,” he said.
Teammate Reagan Campbell-Gillard said there was no way the 20-year-old Fisher-Harris would feel intimidated against Bulldogs’ bevy of big men, calling him “one crazy kid”.
“He’ll absolutely hurt someone. He just throws his weight around like he’s been playing first grade for many years,” Campbell-Gillard said.
“I think he’d handle it very well. We obviously had a trial against the Bulldogs a few weeks ago and obviously the Parra trial and he came out firing.
“He was a bit nervous there on the weekend to obviously get his first game out of the way. But if he gets the chance this week, I’m pretty sure he’ll do some more damage.”