Granville content with impact role
While most premiership-winning players would see a move to the bench as a demotion, Cowboys hooker Jake Granville simply sees it as a way to help the team.
After playing all 28 games for North Queensland in 2015, Granville made a relatively slow start to the new campaign, making just 15 metres in the Round 1 win over the Sharks.
Since then he has started from the bench, gradually returning to the form that made him one of most lethal rakes in the game last year.
The Round 4 golden-point loss to the Broncos was a breakout night for Granville when he scored a try and ran for a season-high 89 metres from 10 runs in a performance that showed how effective he can be against tiring bodies in the reduced interchange era.
And while he's yet to reach the heights of the mid-season stretch that saw him score a try in five straight games last year – including a 191-metre spree against the Eels – Granville says his new role in the team is just as important.
"Whatever my job for the team is I'm happy to do that. I'm getting a lot of footy anyway so I'm happy to play that 60-odd minutes," Granville said after Saturday's win over Penrith.
"It saves us that interchange because Rory [Kostjasyn] can play multiple positions which is really handy. We only have to make the one change which means we can change the bigger boys when we have to."
Cowboys coach Paul Green revealed after the game there was nothing to suggest he would keep starting Granville from the bench, but his decision would ultimately come down to the team's opponents each week.
"It just depends on what our opposition is and how we want to play," Green said.
"If I feel we want to start a bit quicker or with a bit more zip around the ruck, or if we're playing a team that might be a bit more vulnerable around the ruck then we might look at starting him."
The Cowboys No.9 made a notable difference from the moment he came on against the Panthers on Saturday night, running for 73 metres and setting up Gavin Cooper for a try that helped level the scores leading into the final frantic 15 minutes.
"It was a tough game in the first 20 [minutes]. There were a lot of momentum swings back and forth because it was a possession-based sort of game," Granville told NRL.com.
"So to catch a few gaps when the boys were a bit tired around the ruck helps my game and the boys around me lay a great platform for me and help to get those great play the balls."
Granville says that while he is given a defined role each week, he is also encouraged to play what's in front of him.
That freedom to attack the line was on show late in the game when he first linked up with Jason Taumalolo to create a half break, before putting Cooper over from the next play.
"If I see something then I'm going to take advantage of it, but only if it's going to improve our team's position," the 27-year-old said.
"I just saw that they were short and they were a bit late to fill up there. We got a quick play the ball from 'Jase' [Taumalolo]. 'Coops' called the play and he got over which was good to see."
While he received most of the plaudits following the tense five-point win over Penrith, Granville was quick to thank his forwards for laying such a solid platform; none more so than Taumalolo who ran for a whopping 216 metres from 20 carries.
"He's been a strong runner of the ball for us all year. I'd hate to be tackling him, the big fella," he said. "He's got a lot of footwork and he's been really important for us."
Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott was full of praise when describing Granville's impact on the game, saying his diminutive dummy-half gave the entire forward pack a huge lift.
"When he gets out of dummy-half and runs, that's when he's the most dangerous," Scott said.
"I think that was largely due to some of the work that Jason and big Jimmy [James Tamou] were doing around the ruck.
"Once we created a bit of ruck speed for him that allowed him to get out and beat the markers. If he beats the markers then he's quick enough to take advantage of a line that's sitting."