ROOKIE Tohu Harris may well be the man of mystery in the Storm forward pack, but he will become much better known as the season unfolds, according to assistant coach Kevin Walters.
The 21-year-old giant - 196cm and 108 kg - has impressed in his first two outings in Melbourne's top grade and his journey continues in Townsville tonight against one of the foremost NRL packs.
"Tohu is a terrific talent and as he develops, he could become anything," said Walters who is in his second year on the Storm coaching panel. "He is very skilful, and also smart. He is a good student and thinks a lot about the game. At this stage he is no Sika Manu, who he replaces, but given time to develop, he will be a pretty special player."
Harris and his fellow forwards will need to be at their best tonight when they take on a Cowboys pack that rode roughshod over an understrength Bulldogs last weekend.
Test prop James Tamou was particularly impressive, making 161 metres and 24 tackles.
Fellow Test prop Matt Scott is always tough to handle, as are aspiring youngsters Tariq Sims and Jason Taumalolo who come off the bench. But it is the workmanlike backrow of Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall and ex-Storm lock Dallas Johnson that gives the Cowboys such a solid foundation.
"It's always a tough gig in Townsville. It was when I played and it's no easier these days," Walters said. "But every week is the same for us. As premiers and world champions, we are the hunted. We must prepare well, and travel well."
Harris and impressive young Kiwi prop Jesse Bromwich have travelled similar paths at the Storm, with both having made their top grade debuts in the World Club Challenge in England - Bromwich in 2010 and Harris three weeks ago.
Both were also scouted from New Zealand as youngsters. Harris, who Walters says is studious and likes reading, is in his third year with the premiers and last season rejected a big-money offer from Parramatta to re-sign with Melbourne.
"Steve Kearney, who spent some time with Tohu when he was on the coaching staff here, obviously knew how good he was. But the young bloke stayed for much less, which says a lot about his character," he said.
In today's earlier game, the Warriors host the Roosters at Auckland's Eden Park.
COWBOYS v STORM
1300SMILES Stadium, 6.35pm.
Also: Warriors v Roosters, 4.35pm.