By STEVE MASCORD
AUSTRALIA and Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith says clubmate Tohu Harris is so quiet his own parents probably only found out about his Test debut when they sat in front of the television on Friday night.
But the 21-year-old, a late inclusion in New Zealand’s Test team in Canberra on Friday night, gave relatives including father Paul and mother Dale plenty of time to get to the national capital for his big moment.
Harris, who made his first grade debut in the World Club Challenge just two months ago, came into the Kiwis side at the 11th hour when a calf muscle injury ruled out captain Simon Mannering. Australia turned a 6-6 halftime deadlock into a handsome 32-12 win.
“When I came on, they started scoring tries – I don’t know what to read into that!” the back-rower, who found out on match eve that he was playing, told The Age.
“Mum, dad, my fiancé Natalie and her dad, Mark, came down. I loved having them here. I had a little bit of time and the staff quickly got onto getting my mum over here.
“My fiancé and my dad were going to be coming anyway. As soon as we found out, Nat’s dad and my mum got a flight and came too.
“It was a big shock at first. I wasn’t expecting it at all. But it was a good experience and I enjoyed the whole week.
“I got told I was going to be 18th man so there was a chance if something happened, I would be a chance. But I thought I was mainly here for the experience. Unfortunately Simon, he pulled up sore, and I was fortunate enough to be the next one in line.
“(The game) was quick at times but I felt comfortable. “
Asked about his team-mate’s sudden elevation, man of the match Smith said: “He doesn’t talk at the best of times, Tohu. His family probably didn’t know until they turned on the Tv tonight.
“I’m extremely pleased for Tohu, he’s a wonderful young kid and he’s really playing consistent football for us in Melbourne.
“If he continues to work on his game and he continues to play good footy, I think we’re going to be seeing him fairly often in the black and white jersey.”
Another Storm star, Australia halfback Cooper Cronk, said Harris deserved his chance.
“I saw him the other night at the dinner and congratulated him,” said Cronk. “It’s a credit to him to be part of the squad to start with.
“He’s been playing exceptionally at club level and with Simon being out, he’s a ready-made replacement. Well done, congratulations to him.”
Filed for: THE AGE