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"I knew he would," said a gushing Cowboys coach Paul Green on Saturday night.

Jake Granville's path to an NRL starting spot has been a long and winding one.

At 26 years-old the Rockhampton product has just 17 games of NRL experience in this, his third season in the top grade.

On Saturday night against the New Zealand Warriors, he made it.

Sporting a commemorative Anzac jersey, the determined No.9 buried his head into the trenches out of dummy half and found daylight on the other end of the Warriors wall.

New Zealand captain Simon Mannering said after the game that he knew the dummy-half scoot was coming, but was powerless to stop it.

It was the game-winning play for North Queensland less than two minutes from full time.

The try was Granville's third of the night as the quiet and unassuming rake stole the spotlight from co-captain Johnathan Thurston in his 250th NRL game and bookend Ben Hannant playing his 200th.

Granville has come leaps and bounds from the afterthought at Red Hill, where he played just 10 games in two years under former coach Anthony Griffin who never had Granville pegged as bona fide NRL talent.

Cowboys coach Paul Green thought differently and had long been trying to court Granville, almost snaring his signature before the 2014 season.

"I'm really happy for him," Green said.

"Obviously I've got a long association with him. I've seen him do it for years so I'm just happy that he's doing it at this level because I knew he would.

"I think it's pretty obvious, if you've been watching, for a long time. He's shown what he can do."

Green's glowing appraisal amused Thurston, who in jest added: "He's your son."

Granville was Green's star pupil for Intrust Super Cup side the Wynnum Manly Seagulls, who took home back-to-back premierships in 2011 and 2012, and says that familiarity is a large reason for his recent success.

"It's good to have a familiar coach, he knows my game a little bit and it's been a good part of my game," Granville said.

"He just says to trust my instincts and the boys have allowed me to perform my role for the last few weeks and I've really enjoyed it."

Granville is so modest it borders on frustrating, as he played down Saturday night's match-winning performance.

"I was lucky enough to get over for three (tries) but a lot of credit goes to the boys that got me the play-the-balls. The forwards got me a few quick play-the-balls and it allowed me to get out.

"I thought 'may as well have a go'".

Granville had an early warning shot for the Cowboys' next opponents, the Newcastle Knights, who have lost two on the trot after a successful start to the season.

"We owe them one now I suppose," he said.

"They're a tough side obviously because when they come up against us up here they give it to us, and they gave it to Johnno that night so.

"They are a tough side – the whole forward pack and backs – so we're going to have to be on our game to get up against them.

"(The Round 2 game against Newcastle) also created a bit of fire for us (after) the first three games and it got us there where we are today – showing that fight and staying in games."

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