While the Panthers have copped a fair bit of warranted criticism to start the year, one player that should be excluded from the wrath of fans is Penrith’s own raging bull James Fisher-Harris.
Now in his fourth year of first grade, the 23-year-old has been Penrith’s standout forward – if not player – in the opening seven rounds.
Not only is he leading the club in tackles made and decoy runs but he’s also Penrith’s equal leading try scorer with two – not bad for a forward who only scored five tries in his three seasons prior.
Speaking with the Weekender on Monday, Fisher-Harris said he made it his mission in the pre-season to improve all areas of his game.
“Ivan and I had a talk in the pre-season about getting better in pretty much all aspects,” he said.
“I’m just trying to do my thing out there, just trying to step up and get better each year. I feel I’m still learning every week but I’m getting more confident and the body is feeling good.”
While the New Zealand product is leading the way for his side, things aren’t quite going Penrith’s way this season – dropping their third straight game last Friday night.
Fisher-Harris labelled the season so far “frustrating”, however he can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I reckon we are getting better and better each week but we’re still not getting the win,” he said.
“I feel we’ve been getting closer these last three weeks, it’s just one last pass or something like that. It’s frustrating but that’s footy. It’s good that it’s early and we still have time.”
The Panthers returned to training on Monday, looking to build on what has been a relatively strong few weeks despite not collecting any competition points.
They’ll face a rejuvenated Canberra Raiders side this Saturday afternoon, who will be looking to bounce back following a surprise loss to the Manly Sea Eagles last weekend.
Fisher-Harris said there’s no doubt that Ricky Stuart’s side will be dangerous.
“Canberra have some good players and made some purchases,” Fisher-Harris said.
“Their English boys have been pretty good for them and they’ve always been a dangerous team.”
The match between the Panthers and Canberra will be played at McDonalds Park in Wagga this Saturday afternoon from 3pm.
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.