James Harrison’s rugby league career has taken in stops at Batley Bulldogs, Featherstone Rovers, Leeds Rhinos and even Oxford, but at 27 he seems to have firmly settled at Warrington Wolves.

Even that has not been without its challenges. Shortly after his move to the Wolves from Betfred Championship side Featherstone for the 2022 season was confirmed, the prop suffered an ACL injury which kept him off the field for around 10 months, after needing surgery.

The son of former Great Britain international front row Karl Harrison is very much a key part of the squad now though, to the extent that Warrington head coach Sam Burgess always has him at the forefront of his mind.

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Highlights from Warrington Wolves’ win over Leeds Rhinos in Round 7 of the Betfred Super League season

“I can’t speak highly enough of Jimmy,” Burgess said. “He’s the first name on the team sheet really every week now.

“He’s in that group of players you hang your hat on and he’s consistent. He really has grown and in the last couple of weeks he’s starting to find himself and his position in the team, and what he brings.

“Above all else, he’s a quality bloke. His dad was a bully of a player, so I’m not surprised Jimmy shares all those attributes.

“Sometimes I look at him and I’m just not sure how he’s getting the job done. He’s not the typical front-rower-looking type of bloke, but he’s just ferocious out there and he’s getting the rewards he deserves.”

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James Harrison was on hand to finish off a phenomenal team try as Warrington Wolves went on to comfortably beat Hull FC

Former Drighlington junior Harrison may not have followed the same route to the top as many of his contemporaries, but despite being something of a late bloomer he is showing himself to be more than adept at coping with the rigours of the Betfred Super League.

So much so, in fact, that returning former Australia international and the Wolves’ sole representative in last year’s Super League Dream Team, Paul Vaughan, is likely to be on the interchange bench instead of going straight back into the starting line-up for Saturday’s match at home to Leigh Leopards.

“It’s nothing to do with Paul, it’s to do with the team,” Burgess said of Vaughan, who missed the recent wins over Leeds Rhinos in the league and St Helens in the Betfred Challenge Cup due to serving a two-match suspension for a dangerous tackle in the Rivals Round defeat at home to Catalans Dragons.

“All my decisions are based around the team and what’s best for the team. The players are in a position where the team comes first and doing the job is more important.

James Harrison and Paul Vaughan stats for 2024 so far

“What can I do for you rather than what can I do for me is what we’re working on. We all know what Vaughany can bring, but it’s about getting the best out of Vaughany and what works best for the team.”

The Wolves sit second in the table ahead of Round 8, while Leigh found themselves ninth with just one win from their opening six matches. Their defence of the Betfred Challenge Cup ended at the quarter-final stage last weekend too as they were beaten 26-14 by last year’s runners-up Hull KR.

The Leopards have not been helped by injuries decimating their squad in the early weeks of the season, but ex-Warrington players Josh Charnley, Robbie Mulhern, Matt Davis, Jack Hughes, Oliver Holmes and Brad Dwyer, who recently joined Leigh on a permanent basis following a short-lived second spell at the Wolves, have all been named in the visitors’ 21-man squad for Saturday.

Head coach Adrian Lam is maintaining a positive outlook and is adamant Leigh are making progress, however, despite the results not matching what he is seeing in his side’s performances.

Saturday’s Super League Round 8 fixtures

Warrington Wolves vs Leigh Leopards Sky Sports Action On air 2.30pm (3pm kick-off)
London Broncos vs Salford Red Devils Sky Sports Arena On air 2.55pm (3pm kick-off)
Catalans Dragons vs Hull KR Sky Sports Action On air 5.25pm (5.30pm kick-off)

“We’ve lacked consistency this season but that comes with changing players,” Lam said. “We haven’t had the same team for two games in row this season.

“But I’m happy with where we are as a group, even though we’re not getting the results we want. I can see changes and improvement every week.”

Sky Sports’ coverage of Round 8 of the Betfred Super League season continues on Saturday with three games, including Warrington Wolves vs Leigh Leopards exclusively live from 2.30pm (3pm kick-off).

Watch every match of the 2024 Super League season live on Sky Sports and stream with NOW.

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