Granville stiffening spine with defence
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.”