NZ reject revelling with Reds
FORMER All Blacks winger Jeff Wilson believes Queensland’s Kiwi recruit Mike Harris didn’t fit the New Zealand mould but should make his homeland pay with the Reds, and possibly the Wallabies.
Harris’s sensational round five Super Rugby cameo didn’t surprise Wilson, his North Harbour coach, in the slightest, with the dual international predicting New Zealand’s loss would be Australia’s long-term gain.
Harris made a line break with his first touch of the ball, scored two tries in two minutes and then set up the his team’s final try, and converted it from the sideline, to ensure a record 53-3 victory over the Melbourne Rebels.
A virtual unknown before the weekend, Harris is now being spoken about as a Wallabies prospect courtesy of an Australia-born grandmother.
While desperate to keep the former New Zealand Schoolboys and Under 20 rep at home late last year, Wilson c o u l d n ’ t b e h a p p i e r f o r Harris, who is ready and willing to switch allegiances.
Wilson said the tall and p o w e r f u l 2 2 - y e a r - o l d ‘‘ flourished’’ at five-eighth in the New Zealand provincial competition but was unable to pick up a Super Rugby contract with any of the five Kiwi franchises.
‘‘ Unfortunately he wasn’t able to get a chance here and I ’ m d i s a p p o i n t e d a b o u t that,’’ the 60-Test winger said. ‘‘ I tried very hard to get him in somewhere around New Zealand but a lot of people stayed loyal to their ( local) players.
‘‘ Mike is a very combative, very aggressive first fiveeighth. In New Zealand we tend to look at ball distributors a little more.
‘‘ Sometimes it’s about fitting the mould and here in New Zealand he just didn’t fit it at the right time.’’
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, aware of the utility back’s heritage, swooped last S e p t e m b e r a n d H a r r i s jumped at the chance to be playmaker Quade Cooper’s back-up. On a two-year deal with the Reds, Harris admitted he wouldn’t give a second thought to jumping ship if he c o n t i n u e d t o t a k e h i s opportunities and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans came knocking.
‘‘ If that opportunity comes I’d take it with two hands and go for it,’’ Harris said. 2 233 3 853 4 524 5 6 344 7 254 8 212 NBT ( Q) NBT ( Q) 22.40
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