Around the Panthers playing group, both James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota are regarded as quiet, yet hardworking powerhouses, who put in the extra yards at training and lead by example on-field.
By Jessica Miles, Panthers Junior Reporter
They both know how to win a premiership, they’ve represented the New Zealand Kiwis in international Tests and now they’re focused on driving the Panthers into their third NRL Grand Final in as many years.
Both props demonstrated their talent in the first week of finals with Fisher-Harris scoring a try and Leota setting up another. Combined, they broke seven tackles and ran 277 metres across their stints to help the team to a 27-8 victory over the Parramatta Eels.
Reflecting on their performance, they say it all comes down to simply trying their hardest and working with their teammates.
“I just try to do my best job every week for the team to get the win and that’s all it is really,” Leota said.
“It just comes from working hard at training, keeping up the intensity and doing the work. That’s when the results come,” Fisher-Harris said.
As a more senior player in the group, Leota explains that knowing when to use his voice to direct the team comes with experience and exposure to high-pressure situations.
“I just try to build up the boys and give them confidence with my voice out there. I let them know whenever they need to pull their heads in too though,” he joked.
Whilst for Fisher-Harris, leading the team is more about reading the game and knowing when his teammates need that extra bit of a boost.
“When I see something out there, it’s pretty easy. I’ve been in the game for a little bit now, so I sort of see what’s going on. I know how to deal with certain moments in the game,” he said.
“With some of the younger boys, I just give them the confidence to keep doing what they’ve been doing all year. They’ve been killing it, so I just pump them up.”
Moving from New Zealand to Australia as teenagers, both forwards made significant sacrifices to chase their football dreams. Fisher-Harris’ manager taught him how to catch public transport and to make purchases, while Leota washed cars to make minimum wage while progressing through the Panthers pathway.
“I started off in a caravan when I moved from New Zealand to Australia,” Leota said. “I lived with my cousin in Mount Druitt. Looking back on that, it’s really humbling knowing where I started from and compare that to where I am now. It’s always good to look back.”
Heading into the Preliminary Final on Saturday against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Fisher-Harris says the bond the team shares is what makes him love playing football every week.
“I’ve always loved the game and this is just such a good workplace, I enjoy every day that I’m here,” he said.
“We’ve been through the ranks together. We’ve had really low lows so being where we are now means so much to us. Now we’re up here, we don’t want to let each other down. I’m confident that no one in this team will let anyone down.”