Kiwi bone rattler James Fisher-Harris is usually no stranger to injury, but in a year where Penrith’s injury crisis has been one of the worst on record, he’s been one of the lucky ones.
Despite only appearing in 15 games last season due to various ailments, the man known as “Fish” has played in all nine games to start 2018 and is looking better with every game he plays.
Speaking with the Weekender following training on Monday afternoon, Fisher-Harris said he’s relishing his new role at lock and being a consistent, injury-free performer.
“I’m just happy playing each week, I’m keen to play every weekend,” he said.
“It’s hard when you get injuries but things happen, and now I’m trying to make the most of my opportunity while being 100 per cent.”
Penrith’s injury crisis deepened this week with the news Moses Leota had torn a pec muscle against the Cowboys last Friday and would miss around two months of football.
Meanwhile, Trent Merrin hurt his pointer finger in the pre-game warm up last week. Fisher-Harris believes Merrin’s late withdrawal from Friday’s game played a part in Penrith’s slow start.
“I think it did impact some of the boys but we still had to get the job done and everyone has to step up when someone goes down,” he said.
“A lot of things didn’t go our way in that game but we tried to get back into it in the second half but the boys missed the jump again. We ran out of time.”
The Panthers will look to bounce back when they take on the Newcastle Knights on Friday at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The Knights are also coming off a last start loss while the Panthers will be desperate to win to keep their place in the top four.
During Monday’s training session, the Panthers were preparing for their first encounter with Knights rising star Kalyn Ponga.
Players and trainers could be heard yelling “Ponga, Ponga, Ponga” during certain defensive drills, a clear indication that coach Anthony Griffin sees him as the danger man.
Fisher-Harris said all eyes will be on the talented 20-year-old Origin hopeful on Friday.
“He’s a good player, a crazy player who is really good on his feet,” he said.
“I’ve just got to mark up on him and shut him down.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.