Having already lost Kevin Proctor for this season, the Melbourne Storm have been dealt a further blow, with back-rower Tohu Harris to join the New Zealand Warriors on a four-year deal from 2018.
Harris, who is a NZ local from Hastings, as been a part of the Storm system and setup for numerous years and has cemented a spot as a dangerous edge back-rower since the departure of Ryan Hoffman.
The news will no doubt disappoint Storm fans as they will be forced to say goodbye to one of their favourites.
For Harris, the chance to return to his country of birth from 2018 and play for the Warriors was a big factor in his decision.
“I’ve had a great time with the Storm and I owe them so much for what they’ve done for me,” he said.
“Coming home to play for the Vodafone Warriors is a fantastic opportunity, though. The club has a great roster with so many Kiwi boys there and being back in New Zealand closer to family is a big attraction.”
With Stephen Kearney now at the helm as head coach, Harris looks forward to working with him once again having been coached by ‘Mooks’ at the international level with New Zealand.
“I also have great respect for Mooks through my time with him in the Kiwis and I look forward to working with him again,” he added.
Joining the Storm as a 17-year old and then making his debut in 2013, the Storm coaching staff have always been impressed with Harris and his efforts and whilst they are disappointed to see him go, they wish him the best.
“Tohu has been a valuable member of our squad for the last four seasons and before that three years in our NYC squad having signed as a 17-year old,” said Melbourne Storm Director of Football, Frank Ponissi.
“While we are very disappointed to lose him, he has committed to the playing group his desire to finish his time at the Storm on a winning note.”