Written by John Davidson
It’s only seven rounds into the NRL season but one of the biggest talking points has been a rookie at the Wests Tigers.
Harry Grant was a name few fans knew a few months ago, apart from Melbourne Storm diehards and Queensland Cup aficionados. But now most people in the rugby league world now know about the supremely talented 22-year-old from Rockhampton.
Despite only seven NRL appearances under his belt, five of those coming this year for the Tigers, Grant is ranked second on the Dally M leaderboard just one place below Jason Taumalolo. It’s virtually unheard of.
But it’s no anomaly, no mistake. The hooker deserves his current rank among the best in the NRL.
In just five games for Wests he has scored two tries, set up two others and notched three line break assists. His kicking has been on point too, forcing two dropouts, and he is averaging 98.8 running metres per game
However, this Queenslander is a weapon in both attack and defence. He is averaging a mammoth 48.6 tackles per match with a tackle efficiency of 92.4%, he just rarely misses. In Grant’s five games for the Tigers, Michael Maguire’s have won three of them and he has played a big part in those victories.
He looks completely at ease in the pressure cooker of the NRL, like he has been in first-grade for years.
But if you look into the former St Brendan’s College Yeppoon student’s background, you’ll see he has been on the path to the big-time for quite a while. Grant went to the same boarding school as Kangaroos Matt Scott, Dave Taylor, Julian O’Neill and Ben Hunt, and is destined to one day follow them into the green and gold.
Since he was 19 the forward has been playing against men in the Queensland Cup. In 2017 he was named the National Youth Competition player of the year by the RLPA for his performances for the Storm’s Under-20s. Grant debuted in the NRL for Melbourne a year later, but it was for the Sunshine Coast Falcons where he shone first.
Last year the hooker set the state competition alight. He helped the Falcons to the minor premiership, losing just one regular season game, and was named the Intrust Super Cup hooker of the year. Grant crossed for 14 tries in 22 games, notching 21 try assists and averaged 99.9 running metres.
He finished in the top three in the Petero Civoniceva Medal tally, given to the best player over the course of the season, and was awarded his club’s best and fairest gong for 2019.
— NRL (@NRL) June 28, 2020
Melbourne have long seen him as Cameron Smith’s heir apparent.
Like Smith, Grant is not particularly physically imposing at 177 centimetres and 87 kilograms. But he plays well above his weight, is a powerful individual with a smart footy brain who can get his team around the field.
Like Smith, he is a complete player who makes good decisions and has a wide array of talents.
The Storm were keen to send Grant on loan to the Tigers, as they knew he was ready for the NRL in 2020. They have been proved right.
But the 22-year-old could have a tough decision on his hands if Smith decides to play on 2021. Does he return to the Victorian capital and continue to play second fiddle to the ex-Australian captain and GOAT candidate? Or does he stay at Leichhardt Oval, where will play week-in-week-out, or possibly join another NRL side?
Regardless of where he plays next year, we are seeing the birth of a star right now.
Grant is already being tipped for Origin selection this November, despite his relative youth and inexperience. Nothing seems to faze the easy-going, humble rake. Three years ago he and his father even saved a mother and a daughter from being dragged out to the ocean by a dangerous rip.
Lifesaver, NRL young gun, future rep player – the future is bright for the surf-loving, beach-going Harry Grant.