Northland product Corey Harawira-Naera broke into the Kiwis Test side in 2019 after three impressive NRL campaigns with Penrith and Canterbury.
Born in Auckland, Harawira-Naera grew up in Opononi, on the shores of the Hokianga Harbour, and gained a rugby league grounding with Otaua Valley Warriors. He moved to Sydney at the end of 2013 after being scouted by the Panthers and played 38 games for the club’s NYC team in 2014-15, culminating in a grand final victory in the latter season.
Harawira-Naera featured for Penrith at the 2016 NRL Auckland Nines but had to bide his time for a first-grade call-up, which eventually came as a 20-year-old early in the 2017 season. The tall tyro garnered immediate attention as a hole-running second-rower with a big defensive appetite. He scored seven tries in 22 games – all but one of those appearances in the starting line-up – and played in both of the Panthers’ finals matches.
A strong sophomore campaign saw Harawira-Naera named in the Kiwis’ squad for their 2018 post-season schedule but he was forced to withdraw due to a groin injury.
Harawira-Naera linked with Canterbury in 2019 and represented Māori All Stars in their historic pre-season clash with the Indigenous All Stars in Melbourne. He was one of the rebuilding Bulldogs’ best in his first year at the club, resulting in New Zealand selection at the end of the year for the World Cup Nines and a belated Test debut off the bench in the Kiwis’ loss to Australia in Wollongong.
An eye-catching presence in the front line of the Kiwis’ haka, the 24-year-old made a sizeable impact as an interchange during the 2-0 series win against Great Britain, muscling over for a crucial first-half try in the 12-8 series-opening victory at Eden Park.
After again playing for Māori All Stars in early-2020, Harawira-Naera was stood down by the Bulldogs and temporarily deregistered by the NRL over an off-season incident. But he was snapped up by Canberra mid-season and played 11 games for his new club, including three finals.