Keen Panther wanted to forgo NRL break

James Fisher-Harris tried to almost completely forgo the off-season in a bid to continue to build on the momentum of his NRL career-best year at Penrith.

james fisher harris of the panthers is tackled during the nrl match between the gold coast titans and the penrith panthers at css in gold coast australia
JAMES FISHER-HARRIS of the Panthers is tackled during the NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Penrith Panthers at CSS in Gold Coast, Australia. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

James Fisher-Harris' commitment to building on his career-best NRL year in 2018 was so strong he wanted to return to Penrith training with almost no off-season.

A starting lock on New Zealand's tour of England last year, he wasn't due back at the foot of the mountains until well after the rest of his teammates after a taxing year.

But Fisher-Harris had no interest in that.

It's understood he at one stage had to be told to hold off by the Panthers before returning on a modified workload, at his own insistence.

"He actually came back as soon as he came back from England to start training again. He didn't want to go away or anything. It just shows the attitude of the kid," Penrith co-captain Reagan Campbell-Gillard said.

"He's just one of those guys that just loves and breathes football. I think he is in for a great season.

"I think he'll go better (than 2018). He's big, tough and very skilful as well for a big boy."

Campbell-Gillard felt the pain of Fisher-Harris' return, copping a broken jaw from the 23-year-old in a training session in December.

The powerful forward was one of Penrith's best last year and will take on a bigger role in the pack headed into Sunday's round-one clash with Parramatta.

His career-best year earned strong interest from other clubs, with a big offer understood to have been on the table from at least one western Sydney rival.

But he barely entertained the thought of leaving, quickly taking up a three-year extension to keep him at the Panthers until the end of 2022.

"Penrith just feels like home to be honest, that was pretty much it," Fisher-Harris said.

"I know all the boys and we came through the grades together. I came here straight from New Zealand when I was 17.

"I've bought a house here ... I didn't really look into (other offers)."


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