Three-time premiership winner James Fisher-Harris has been granted an early release from his contract with the Penrith Panthers for the remaining two seasons of his NRL contract and will join a new NRL club.

The Panthers have confirmed that Fisher-Harris will be released from the final two years of his contract (2025 and 2026) with the club after he approached them with a request to return home to New Zealand on compassionate grounds.

A key figure of the Panthers forward pack, he has made 183 NRL appearances for the club and played 15 Tests for the New Zealand Kiwis - this included being named Kiwis captain and winning the 2023 Golden Boot Award.

“Fish has been exceptional for the Panthers, both on and off the field,” Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said.

“The leadership and cultural impact he has displayed since coming into first grade has been outstanding. He's evolved into one of the game's elite players, and coaching him has been a pleasure.

“While we would have loved him to stay at the Panthers, we wish him, his partner Natalie, and children Tahira and Deon all the best for their next chapter.”

Departing the Panthers at the end of the season, Fisher-Harris has signed a four-year contract with the New Zealand Warriors beginning in 2025.

“It's going to be fantastic having James with us. He's one of the game's elite players, a super tough forward who sets and demands the highest standards,” New Zealand Warriors coach Andrew Webster said.

“I loved working with him at the Panthers and we really look forward to bringing him into our system from next season.

"He'll add terrific value to our roster, to the club overall and he'll also be invaluable as a mentor for our young players coming through.”