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Harris steps up in seniority ranks

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Lynn McConnell     15 Feb 2017     Getty Images

Harris, 24, is recovering from ACL surgery and expects to be back in action by early April.

But it was while sitting down at training in pre-season and looking around for some older faces that the word was put on him that he was a leader in the side now.

"I told them I didn't think I was old enough," he said.

However, the four-Test All Black hooker said each year the players seemed to get younger and younger and there were plenty of Mitre 10 Cup players who kept putting their hands up.

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It was going to be an important season for the Chiefs and while it would be the last for coach Dave Rennie and first five-eighths Aaron Cruden, both of them heading overseas, they weren't dwelling on that fact at the moment, Harris said.

"It's sad to see some of these guys go because they have been around for so long, they've shaped the Chiefs into what we are now and obviously through 2012-13 when Dave was at the helm there, he's done a lot not just for the players but for the organisation as such.

"I guess it is sad to see him go but we're not going to dwell on that yet. We've obviously got unfinished business and that's the common goal for this year - to get that Championship," he said.

Rennie had ensured consistent competitiveness in the Chiefs side and that came down to the family environment he created around the team.

"We're all brothers, even through the office staff. Connecting through those relationships is pretty important as an organisation. I'm not too sure before I was in the Chiefs but there is a lot of Maori culture and stuff like that which, to the Chiefs, is quite important so we do a lot of that stuff which brings all the boys together.

"It doesn't matter where you're from, if it's England or Japan, or Samoa or just down the road, we're all tied in to that one sort of tribe. And we vouch for each other through thick and thin. It's good to have someone at the helm like that," he said.

While keen to get back into action, Harris had been watching the side prepare and felt they were looking good.

The pack was shaping well, players were back from Japan and players were being drip fed back into action.

"We'll look forward to this last pre-season game against the Blues and then look forward to unleashing against some of these fierce packs in the Super Rugby competition.

"It was quite good seeing the 10s and we played with quite a bit of flair and razzle and obviously that won't change too much. Every team brings their own sorts of qualities and we have that aspect so it will be interesting to see how it goes."

One area of interest for all sides will be dealing with the new application of the tackle law, especially high tackles.

"I haven't done any tackling yet but watching the 10s I was thinking 'should that be a yellow card?' or 'is that a red card?'"

A concussion victim in the past, Harris said: "I don't know how it is going to go but obviously it is for the greater good because there are obviously a lot of concussions and it's a massive issue now."