Granville stiff­en­ing spine with de­fence

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUX­WORTH jonathon. tux­worth@ news. com. au

MEN­TION Jake Granville and most high­light his speed and crafti­ness out of dummy half in at­tack.

But it’s also his de­fence which has proven a ma­jor fac­tor in the Cow­boys’ quest to nail down a top four spot, de­spite nurs­ing one of the worst in­jury tolls in the NRL.

On two oc­ca­sions in Sun­day’s 23- 10 win over Souths in Cairns, the 85kg hooker cut a Burgess boy in half to lift his team.

When the 28- year- old missed four games with a bro­ken leg ear­lier this year, the im­pact it had on the Cow­boys’ mid­dle third de­fence was huge.

Since his re­turn North Queens­land has won six of eight games, wins mostly built on vastly im­proved de­fence in the mid­dle third he pa­trols.

“Yeah, it is ( some­thing I take pride in). I sup­pose one of my jobs in the mid­dle is to work with the big guys in de­fence and I was lucky enough to put on a few all right shots; I en­joyed it,” Granville said.

“They’re big fel­las and run pretty hard; you’ve got to watch what you’re do­ing.

“Yes­ter­day was prob­a­bly one of my bet­ter games. I sup­pose it makes our spot in the top eight a bit bet­ter and we’re get­ting on a roll.”

The vic­tory was the Cow­boys’ third straight since Johnathan Thurston was ruled out for the sea­son with a shoul­der in­jury.

It has forced Granville to take on more play­mak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity and his im­por­tance to the team is get­ting the credit it de­serves now he’s out of the cham­pion half­back’s shadow.

“I try and talk a bit more and keep the boys or­gan­ised,” Granville said.

“He ( Thurston) is ob­vi­ously a key player for us, he and ( fel­low in­jured co- cap­tain) Matt Scott are mas­sive lead­ers for the club.

“We’re deal­ing with that at the mo­ment and start­ing to get some com­bi­na­tions with Te Maire ( Martin), Cootey ( Lach­lan Coote) and Morgo ( Michael Mor­gan).”

Cow­boys as­sis­tant coach Todd Payten praised Granville’s tough­ness in play­ing on with a bro­ken leg he suf­fered against Souths in Round 5, then miss­ing just four games.

“He played half a game with a bro­ken leg and came back prob­a­bly two weeks ear­lier than he should have,” Payten said.

“He didn’t com­plain, he’s a tough kid and just goes about his busi­ness. “He’s very un­der­rated, Jake. “Since he got to the club we’ve been in top four con­tention ever since, and he should take a fair bit of the rap for that.”

IN SPOT­LIGHT: Jake Granville has his photo taken with fans Zak and Ash­leigh Rook­wood and Karen Skud­der af­ter the Cow­boys’ game in Cairns. Pic­ture: BRENDAN RADKE

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