Granville eyes off 80-minute challenge
Cowboys grand final hero Jake Granville has set himself the challenge of becoming an 80-minute player as a result of the reduction in interchanges available to teams in 2016.
With the interchange to fall from 10 per game to eight this season the expectation is that there will be more tired forwards around the ruck area in the latter stages of each half, and Granville wants to be there to take full advantage.
In his first year at the Cowboys last season the former Bronco hooker started the first three games from the bench and averaged exactly 40 minutes a game for the first 10 weeks of the season.
He played in excess of 70 minutes just four times in his 28 appearances in 2015, but said being an 80-minute option for coach Paul Green has been a major focus in yet another gruelling North Queensland pre-season.
"I feel a bit fitter. I've enjoyed the pre-season and it's time to start playing soon which is good," Granville said.
"Fitness is a big thing. I struggled in some games around last year towards the back there.
"To play 80 minutes is a tough job and I've got a lot to work on in that side of my game.
"Not blowing out early and stuff like that so that is an aspect of my game I've got to work on."
Becoming an NRL regular at 26 years of age, Granville was a revelation in the Cowboys' premiership triumph and has been rewarded with a place in the Queensland Emerging Origin squad that will assemble in Brisbane on Friday for a three-day camp.
The Rockhampton-born rake remains steadfastly focused on his primary assignments at the Cowboys in the coming weeks but admitted that it was nice to be included in elite Maroons company.
"It will be pretty exciting to get down there and mix with a different group of players and learn a few things," he said.
"Everyone dreams of [playing for Queensland] and that's a goal of everyone but my main goal is here.
"I'll just concentrate on playing solid footy here and trialling well and just keep putting in the hard yards."
While Granville may be eyeing off the extra room afforded by fewer interchanges, veteran prop Ben Hannant is also conscious of what the rule changes will mean for big blokes such as himself.
Joking that he had been trying to prove his Auckland Nines credentials to coach Green, Hannant said that the stop-clock on restarts will take just as much of a toll on bigger forwards as the reduction in interchanges.
"We had the refs up here for a little trial game between ourselves and that 30 seconds between scrums and drop-outs, I think that will knock up a few boys," said Hannant, who looks certain to be heading to Bundaberg next weekend for the trial against the Broncos on February 6.
"It is important to have those extra couple of 'kays' in your legs so when you're needed to you can respond.
"With the interchange down to eight now it will be important for the middle blokes to be able to carry a bit more juice."