Harry Grant used to run on the kicking tee for Ben Hunt; now he is set to come off the bench to spell him in next Wednesday night’s opening State of Origin at Accor Stadium.
Grant is living his childhood dream in the Queensland camp at Sanctuary Cove, with his idols on the coaching staff and another sharing the dummy half duties with him after Hunt was named to start and hooker and the Storm star on the interchange.
The Melbourne hooker grew up watching the likes of Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston riding bikes around the Maroons camp on television but despite having been a member of the Queensland squad for the past two seasons it was something he had never experienced.
The 24-year-old also looked up to Hunt, who played in the Yeppoon Seagulls under 14s team coached by his father Paul Grant.
“I always looked up to Benny as a player and a person,” Grant said. “I think I was six or seven and used to be the tee boy.
“I remember him carving up teams singlehandedly and followed his career closely so to play in a Maroons jersey with him is pretty special for myself, but also the whole community in Yeppoon.
“You see what Benny has done for Queensland, every time he has pulled on a Maroons jersey he has done a brilliant job, so for me just to have the opportunity to play alongside Benny in that Queensland jersey is going to be pretty special.”
His other childhood idols were Slater, Smith and Thurston, who were star players in a Maroons team that dominated Origin from 2006 until Brad Fittler took over the NSW reins in 2018, winning eight consecutive series and 11 series in 12 years.
Slater is now Queensland coach, with Smith and Thurston among his assistants, and Grant said Origin camp was like he had imagined when they played.
“Growing up I was very, very invested State of Origin and what the Maroons were doing,” he said. “I used to see guys like JT and Cam and Billy getting around on their bikes at Sanctuary Cove so to be here now doing it is pretty cool.
“I always looked up to and idolised those guys in a Maroons jersey so to have them in camp now, in charge2, with all their experience and knowledge of the game it is pretty special for us.
“When they speak everyone is listening and taking it on board because they have been there and done it a million times. You have just got to be like to a sponge and take in as much as you can off them in a short period of time.”
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 1 -
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney
Grant didn’t join the Maroons camp until Wednesday after Slater told him to stay in Melbourne while he recovered from the ‘flu and to receive treatment for a groin injury.
However, he declared himself fully fit and raring to play next Wednesday night.
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