Granville confident in leading hand
Jake Granville can tell by the tone in Johnathan Thurston's voice when he wants the ball and when he really wants it.
It's been an important skill for the former Bronco to learn as he has become the missing piece to the playmaking puzzle that the Cowboys had struggled to solve ever since the retirement of former hooker Aaron Payne.
Known for his blistering running game that saw him switch between hooker and fullback in the Intrust Super Cup as he struggled to force his way into Brisbane's 17, Granville headed to Townsville at the end of 2014 hoping to complement the greatest playmaker in the game today.
But rather than playing second fiddle and simply following instructions from those around him, Granville says the quality of players in the team has given him the confidence to become an influential member of the side.
In the past three meetings between North Queensland and Brisbane – all decided by a solitary point – no player has had their hands on the footy more than Granville. His 289 possessions are 33 more than Brisbane opposite Andrew McCullough and 81 more than Thurston, although he has learned over the past two years when to let 'JT' do his thing.
"If he sees something you can hear by the tone of his voice that he wants it and you'll go that way," Granville said of his combination with Thurston.
"'Morgo' (Michael Morgan) and 'Cootey' (Lachlan Coote) have been really helpful too around the ruck with deciding where to go and you can tell when they want the ball.
"I've probably just learnt off the quality players like 'JT', Morgo and Cootey to trust what they see as well.
"They instil a lot of confidence in you to take the opportunities if you see them because you know they're going to be right there beside you.
"Just to play 'eyes up' and determining what time in the game it is as to when to run and stuff like that. You can't just do it willy-nilly."
A Rockhampton product who made his NRL debut with Brisbane in 2013 and admitted to going for the Broncos "a bit" growing up, Granville played 10 games for Brisbane before joining his former coach at Wynnum Manly, Paul Green, at the Cowboys.
The only games he has missed since were the two a month ago due to a broken hand but the 27-year-old doesn't believe he is doing much differently, simply flourishing in a team that has encouraged him to be himself.
"Ever since I've come to the club the players around me and the staff have said to take the opportunities that you see and don't second-guess yourself," Granville told NRL.com.
"It hasn't changed too much, it's probably just more getting an opportunity and playing with the quality forwards that give you those opportunities as well as the halves.
"More or less the players around you create those opportunities for you to run or what-not or create something down a short side.
"The staff have been really helpful as well and it's pretty easy to slot in there when you've got quality staff and players are around you."
Rotated between the starting team and bringing some impact off the bench this season, Granville represents part of an interchange rotation that has proven to be a major weapon for the Cowboys late in games.
In the past three games against Brisbane almost 40 per cent of North Queensland's points have come between the 50th and 70th minutes when the likes of Granville, Jason Taumalolo, James Tamou and Matt Scott return for their second stints.
"When you come back out obviously you've had a little bit of a break so you can try to add that impact if that's what the team's looking for you to do," Granville said. "The aim is to get back out there and try and create some impact.
"We haven't really talked about it but when you've got a quality player like Jase and big Jimmy and Matty Scott rolling out one after the other in the second half, with the work the other guys have done off the bench it can create that bit of an impact.
"A lot of credit goes to the guys who come off the bench and keep the momentum going and then when those guys come out with a bit of a break under their belt they can create that impact."