Granville relishes Smith duel
PUNDITS are rating Sunday’s NRL grand final between the Cowboys and Storm as a battle between David and Goliath, and Cowboys rake Jake Granville will have his own Goliath to tackle.
Granville will go head to head with Melbourne hooker and future rugby league Immortal Cameron Smith in what could be one of Sunday’s decisive individual duels.
There is no doubt in Granville’s mind that Smith is the NRL’s best player.
“At the moment he is, he just controls the game so well,” Granville said.
“We’ll have to be at our best to try and limit his opportunities.
“It’s a bit unreal to be playing against a player like Cam Smith in a grand final, he’s such a big-game player and a legend of the game.”
But Granville is also a force to be reckoned with, and like Smith knows how to win a grand final.
He was the man who steered North Queensland around the ruck during the 2015 decider, and during the biggest moment in Cowboys history he delivered a perfect pass from dummy half to allow Johnathan Thurston to boot his golden-point field goal.
His defence has been on point during the Cowboys finals’ charge, but Granville’s running game has also been picking up steam and it was his go-forward that helped North Queensland dominate territory in last weekend’s preliminary final win over the Roosters.
“I haven’t been at my attacking best but I’ve tried to work on my composure and stuff and try to help Morgs (Michael Morgan) as much as I can and get the team around the park,” Granville (pictured) said.
“Everyone’s been doing their job there and it’s a massive loss having JT out, but Morgo’s stepping up in that role and gone to another level.
“Cootey (Lachlan Coote) does a massive effort there taking a bit of pressure of Morgs and Te (Maire Martin), and we’re all working well together.”
The talented North Queensland spine takes on the NRL’s best in Storm quartet Smith, Billy Slater, Cameron Munster and Cooper Cronk, and Granville respects them accordingly.
“We’re going to have to go to another level from last week,” he said.
“They’re one of those sides that can control the game really well and we’ll have to match them in that area.”
Granville, 28, is now one of the more experienced players in coach Paul Green’s 17 and has urged the group’s younger, less experienced players to enjoy the grand final ride.
“It’s such an exciting time for them and it is important to embrace it and not just get nervous and play the game in your head before Sunday,” he said.
“You just take it as it comes and relax when it’s time not to talk about footy.”