Grant hails importance of suburban grounds
Wests Tigers prop Tim Grant has expressed the importance of suburban grounds ahead of his 150th NRL game at Leichhardt Oval this weekend.
The NSW government on Thursday approved a $1.6 billion package which will see Parramatta Stadium rebuilt, ANZ Stadium transformed and Allianz Stadium upgraded, but NRL veteran Grant was hopeful the league's suburban grounds wouldn't be forgotten.
Above all Grant was buoyed by his latest milestone in what will be just his second time playing at one of the Wests Tigers' spiritual homes.
"As a kid I always wanted to play one first-grade game and play for my local team in the Panthers and the opportunity that I've had to come and represent the Tigers since is something as equally as special as playing for Penrith to me," Grant told NRL.com.
"To rack up the 150th at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon too – it doesn't get much better than that. There's something about it isn't there?
"It's why we still have to play a certain amount of games at suburban grounds. It's really important for the fans.
"If someone wants to take their young grandson or their kids to the footy, I think they need to know places like Leichhardt Oval, Belmore and Penrith."
One of the Tigers' elder statesmen, Grant can relate with his young squad having gone through a similar transitional phase with Penrith earlier in his career.
"If you look back at Penrith. There was myself, Michael Jennings, Lachlan Coote, Wade Graham and a lot of other guys who were in a similar situation as these kids are here at the Tigers. We all grew up together and came through the grades," Grant said.
"I hope that I'm offering them something to our younger players here now because I'm getting a lot out of them with their enthusiasm and the way they love coming here every day as an NRL player. It's re-sparked me."
Grant has thrived under Jason Taylor's coaching in 2016, having started every game in the front row. It's a far cry from last season at the Rabbitohs where he managed to play just seven times in 21 games from the opening whistle.
"I've always known I was long-minute player and an endurance player. That was the opportunity which popped up here at the Tigers and I knew that's when I would play my best football," he said.
"That's why I'm here. It was frustrating last year but in saying that Madge picked the team around what he thought was best and I totally respected that."
Grant has repaid Taylor's fate by managing 108.4 metres and 24 tackles in averaged 50 minute stints for the Tigers this season.