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Granville promises to reprise the running man

Granville promises to reprise the running man
Cowboys hooker Jake Granville. Credit: Scott Davis. Copyright: NRL Photos.

It's colloquially referred to as 'the big dance' so it's little wonder that Cowboys hooker Jake Granville has promised to bust out his running man routine so that his team can push for a second Telstra Premiership crown in Sunday's NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium.

When the Cowboys charged to their first premiership in 2015 much of the impetus came from the dummy-half running of the lightning quick Granville in what was his first full season in the NRL.

When the likes of Matt Scott, James Tamou and Jason Taumalolo rumbled forward Granville would poke his head out from the back of the ruck like a more mobile Dickie Knee and bolt headlong into a retreating defence to give his halves even greater momentum from which to play from.

During that magical North Queensland year Granville averaged 65 metres per game, a number that has shrunk alarmingly in the two seasons since.

Last year he averaged a touch under 40 metres per game while this year it has dissipated even further to an average of just 28.7 per game.

Only once since Round 14 has he run for more than 40 metres in a game and he recognises that now is the time to bring that element back to the Cowboys' attack.

"I probably haven't been generally as happy with my attacking game but I've been working on it and I'll be looking to try and bring that attribute for the team," said Granville, whose pure speed created the Cowboys' first try in the 2015 decider for Justin O'Neill. 

"It's something that's probably one of the better parts of my game, is running, so I'll have to work on that and try and take advantage of the opportunities that I do get.

"I can't really put my finger on [why I haven't been running as much] but I've been working on it the past few weeks.

"I probably just haven't taken advantage of the opportunities I've got so much. I haven't been the best at selecting my time as well as I can.

"Timing is everything and there are times when you shouldn't run so I'll have to not run on those.

"I'll be looking for those opportunities on Sunday to try and bring something to the team with my running game."

If anyone understands the importance of timing in rugby league it's Granville's opposite number on Sunday evening, champion Storm skipper Cameron Smith.

Largely lauded for his control of the ruck and thus control of a game's tempo, Smith has averaged almost double the run metres of the more fleet-footed Granville in 2017, his ability to pick his moment a facet the Cowboys rake admires greatly.

"He can control the game. He's so good at controlling the game," Granville said.

"We probably do have a lot different styles but that's one attribute you can pick from his game, the way he knows when to do stuff at the right time.

"Whether it's running or playing to a player or kicking, he's got that knack for knowing what to do at the right time."

 


A month ago Granville was walking The Strand in Townsville with his partner when frantic activity on the team's WhatsApp group alerted him to the fact that he should watch the final 10 minutes of the Bulldogs' Round 26 clash with the Dragons.

To Granville, that win by Canterbury represented the change of fortune that coach Paul Green had spoken about regularly as they battled bravely through a run of five losses in six weeks and why they are desperate to complete the fairy tale on Sunday.

"From the outside looking in it looks a bit like [a fairy tale run] but we've believed in ourselves all year and we'll continue to do that," said the 28-year-old.

"We believe that we deserve to be there. We had a lot of effort in the last six rounds but it wasn't paying off for us but we've got that execution to go with it now.

"We got that little bit of luck when we put our season in the hands of the Bulldogs and Dragons game but we got that luck there and that was probably the little bit of luck that we were waiting for.

"We've really taken advantage of that the last few weeks but we're going to have to go to another level on Sunday because they're such a quality side."

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