NZ re­ject rev­el­ling with Reds

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

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

( Q) 22.46 ( Q) 22.68 ( Q) 22.43

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