Panthers shock: James Fisher-Harris to depart at season’s end

James Fisher-Harris speaking to the media last week. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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James Fisher-Harris has dramatically quit the Penrith Panthers.

The 28-year-old three-time Premiership winner will depart the club at the end of the season after being granted a release on compassionate grounds.

He will join the New Zealand Warriors from 2025.

The Weekender understands recent personal circumstances prompted Fisher-Harris to approach Penrith officials and ask for the shock release.

He will play out the remainder of 2024 with the Panthers.

“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.

James Fisher-Harris is leaving Penrith. Photo: Megan Dunn.

“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.”

Since making his NRL debut in 2016, Fisher-Harris has played 183 NRL games for the Panthers, four matches for the Maori All Stars and 15 Test matches for New Zealand.

He was named the Kiwis captain last year and won the 2023 Golden Boot Award as the best international player in the world.

“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 CEO 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.”

James Fisher-Harris and Mick Fanning celebrate on Grand Final night. Photo: NRL Images.

“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.”

The Warriors have announced Fisher-Harris has signed with the club for four seasons.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to sign James,” said Warriors CEO Cameron George.

“It’s a huge signing for us, undoubtedly one of the biggest in our club’s history.

“To be able to add a player of his calibre and standing to our squad is a tremendous boost for 2025 and beyond. He’s such a highly-respected player and leader.”

Fisher-Harris will reunite with former Panthers Assistant Coach Andrew Webster at the Warriors.

James Fisher-Harris. Photo: Melinda Jane.

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