NRL 2024: James Fisher-Harris set to leave Penrith on compassionate grounds

The Warriors have dropped a signing bombshell with Golden Boot winner and three-time Penrith premiership star James Fisher-Harris to join the club in 2025 after he was granted an early release from his contract at the Panthers contract on compassionate grounds.

The New Zealand captain is one of the best forwards in the world and played a key role in the Kiwis trouncing Australia 30-0 in the Pacific Championships last year.

Fisher-Harris told Penrith officials this week that he wanted to return home to be closer to his family and the club consented to releasing him from the final two years of his deal.

“Fish has been exceptional for the Panthers, both on and off the field,” Panthers coach Ivan Cleary 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, his partner Natalie, and children Tahira and Deon all the best for their next chapter.”

The four-year deal is huge for the Warriors who will lose powerhouse prop Addin Fonua-Blake to the Sharks at the end of the season.

Fisher-Harris worked with Warriors coach Andrew Webster while he was an assistant at Penrith, with the Whangarei Marist Brothers junior to be a major addition next year who will help them enormously on and off the field.

“He’s one of the game’s elite players, a super tough forward who sets and demands the highest standards,” Webster said.

“It’s going to be fantastic having James with us. 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.”

Fisher-Harris made his NRL debut in 2016 and was seen as one of their core stars who the club could build around while other players were squeezed out due to the salary cap.

The Panthers will now have money to upgrade other players, but they’ll need to start looking for a quality middle given they also lost Spencer Leniu last year.

“James has been a tremendous asset to the Panthers, and as a premiership player, has been a true reflection of a team that strives to be a source of community pride,” Panthers rugby league chief executive Matt Cameron said.

“Joining the club as an 18 year old, he has become a world-class player, captain of his nation, and a leader of men. His impact on our club culture has been truly exceptional.”

“We look forward to watching James represent the Panthers for the remainder of the 2024 season and out of respect to all parties both James and the club will refrain from making any further comment at this point in time.”