Social media reaction to Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris signing with New Zealand Warriors; Freddy Lussick, Cameron Smith comments

James Fisher-Harris has left the NRL world stunned after signing with the Warriors for 2025 on a four-year deal, leaving the Panthers after three-straight premierships.

The front-rower, who has played his entire career at Penrith, will depart the club at the end of the season to move home to New Zealand on compassionate grounds.

Fisher-Harris is regarded as one of rugby league’s elite big men, dominating opposition forward packs throughout his career and taking over the Kiwis captaincy in 2023.

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His move to the Warriors was never reported on or rumoured until the official announcement came on Wednesday, leaving many surprised.

One of those was future teammate Freddy Lussick, who was in the middle of a live radio interview with SENZ when the news of Fisher-Harris’ arrival was broken.

“Is this a gee up?” the hooker said.

“I’m glad I don’t have to tackle him anymore.”

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Lussick recently signed a contract extension to remain in Auckland until 2026, meaning he will have at least two years alongside the Penrith enforcer.

NRL legend Cameron Smith was another to find out live on air and admitted he was surprised to see the 28-year-old leave the foot of the Mountains.

“My goodness, did anyone see this coming? It’s massive given he’s played his entire career in Penrith,” Smith said.

“It’s no secret that he’s been a huge part of their three-peat, there’s no secret about that. He’s just come off a season where he won the Golden Boot.

“I think it goes without saying that he’s regarded by a lot of people in rugby league circles as the best prop in the game currently, this is massive, massive news.

“We always talk about how big the pool of young players coming through at Penrith, but jeez it’s hard to replace someone like James Fisher-Harris.

“It’s just incredible, massive signing for the Warriors.”

Social media was also left stunned by the acquisition, which should see the Warriors remain a premiership force in the coming years.

Adam Blair – who coached the prop for the Maori All Stars earlier this year – believes it will be among the greatest signings in the club’s history.

“The comeback of Shaun Johnson was quite big, but this one – given nobody would have thought it was happening in the background – it’s one of the biggest signings for the Warriors,” he told NRL.

“You never would have thought you’d be able to get James Fisher-Harris back to New Zealand at this stage of his career. He’s in prime form. This is what you want for the Warriors, that top homegrown talent coming to the club.

“Warriors have gained a special player.”

Fisher-Harris has played over 180 first grade games for the Panthers since making his debut in 2016, as well as a further 14 appearances for the Kiwis.