Harris hasn't forgotten pain of Warriors' last final

The lessons learned from the Warriors' last finals appearance remain front of Tohu Harris' mind as he warns the current side not to make the same mistakes their 2018 counterparts did.

But coach Andrew Webster, likened to master mentor Craig Bellamy by Harris, insists all the pressure will be on reigning premiers Penrith when the New Zealand side make a long-awaited return to finals.

It has taken 1827 days, nearly three full seasons on the road during the pandemic and four changes in coach for the Warriors to surge back into the finals for a meeting with the Panthers on Saturday.

As fate would have it, Harris and the Warriors also faced Penrith in their last finals game.

James Maloney starred in a 27-12 win for the side that would go on to dominate the NRL from 2020 onwards.

Of the Warriors' 17 named for the rematch on Saturday, only Harris and Jazz Tevaga have remained with the club the entire time since.

The game doubled as Shaun Johnson's Warriors swan song, before he returned from Cronulla last season and hit career-best form this year.

Forwards Isaah Yeo, James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota were all on deck for the Panthers in 2018 and have since transformed into three of the game's premier middle forwards.

Harris is itching for the chance to return serve all these years later.

"I do remember that game and the feeling after it," the lock said.

"Our forward pack didn't match up to them. We didn't play well that night and that made the whole night hard to get anything done.

"We've got a big night ahead of us and it starts up front.

"Our group in the middle, we've got a big job to do and we're excited to do it."

The match carries extra significance for coach Webster, who was an assistant to Ivan Cleary at Penrith before joining the Warriors this season.

The one-time mastermind of the Panthers' attack is the likely Dally M Coach of the Year after hoisting the Warriors from 15th on the ladder to their first top-four berth since 2007.

"I do see a lot of Craig (Bellamy) in him," said ex-Melbourne forward Harris.

"He's probably a bit more fun and laughs a bit more than Craig.

"But the intensity is there when it's needed and he's really good at reading the room."

Penrith will come into their home game hot favourites against a Warriors side that has more finals debutants (six) than the Panthers have players yet to win a premiership (five).

"The pressure's on them," Webster said.

"We just want to go after the challenge. 

"I love every underdog story. When I watch movies, I always watch the ones with the underdog stories.

"But I'm also never one of those guys who's motivated by trying to prove people wrong.

"Just as long as everyone here is believing we can, and everyone is, I'm rapt.

"I'm more motivated by proving people right."

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