Harry Grant reflects on incredible year in tell-all chat
EXCLUSIVE: Harry Grant pauses for a moment when asked what word would best describe his stellar 2020 season.
There have been countless adjectives written and spoken but the breakout star settles on “surreal”.
To be fair, the enormity of what the Yeppoon product achieved is pretty hard to sum up.
He heralded his arrival on the NRL scene with the Wests Tigers after an historic player loan deal with the Melbourne Storm.
He played 15 of a possible 18 games for the Tigers, starting every game at hooker, and was named the club’s Rookie of the Year.
He then went on to win the RLPA Rookie of the Year and the Dally M Rookie of the Year.
And to top it off, his debut for the Queensland Maroons in the State of Origin series decider at Suncorp Stadium is one that will long be remembered.
Grant is now enjoying some down time at home, and celebrated Christmas with family at his parents’ home.
He plans to return to Melbourne several days before pre-season training starts on January 4.
Grant loves surfing and with the waves at his hometown not exactly cranking, hinted he would love to spend some time at Surf Lakes, the artificial wave pool at Yeppoon.
The 22 year old is also taking the opportunity to reflect on a year that has made him a household name.
“It all happened pretty quickly,” Grant said.
“I was pretty happy that the Origin was towards the end of the year and I was lucky enough to get a game there.
“The whole year was pretty crazy, but my Origin debut was definitely the highlight.
“I’ll cherish that forever and cherish the jersey and the players that I played alongside and the whole squad.
“There’s not that many people who get to achieve that – a State of Origin series win – it’s pretty special. That’s something that we’ll all hold onto forever.”
Grant said that at the start of pre-season and each year he liked to set goals and write them down because “that way I’ve always got track of them and can always look back on them”.
“At the start of 2020, I kept it pretty simple,” he said.
“Once I got to the Wests Tigers, I just wanted to play consistent first grade and earn the respect of all the players there.
“I didn’t write too much more than that. The Origin was just a bonus, it was obviously in the back of my mind but, at the time, it wasn’t realistic, so I didn’t write that down.”
You can be sure it will be front of mind when he pens his 2021 goals.
Rugby league pundits declared after his sensational Origin debut that Grant had locked up the Maroons No.9 jersey for the next decade.
Nothing would make the modest young champion happier.
“It’s a pretty addictive feeling, and I want more of it,” he said.
Harry on how he’ll spend his Christmas break
“It’s good to be home, it’s felt like a long time. It’s nice to have a bit of time with family and friends.
“It definitely was a harder year with the COVID bubble and not being able to do much outside of footy so I’m just looking forward to just chilling out.
“Usually we’re down in Port Macquarie with dad’s side of the family so it’s the first Christmas in Yeppoon for a little while. We’ll have it at mum and dad’s place.
“I’ve got a best mate’s wedding just after Christmas so I’m looking forward to that. About New Year’s I’ll head back to Melbourne and get settled in there before pre-season starts.”
Harry on life in the COVID bubble
“It was pretty difficult living within the bubble but, in saying that, all the boys were in the same boat and looked after each other. Going into training every day and doing the same protocols made it a little bit easier.”
Harry on his season at the Tigers
“They’ve got such a big fan base at Wests Tigers. They all welcomed me from the first day and got behind me throughout the year which really helped and made the transition from the Storm to the Tigers a lot easier.
“My first game was one that will always sit with me - my debut for the club, getting a win that was awesome. Playing against the Storm was a great game and pretty special for myself playing in front of my family for the first time this season. It was a good insight into how it is playing against Melbourne. That was probably the hardest game I’d played all year.
“NRL’s a massive step up from Intrust Super Cup and NSW Cup so just to have the experience and find my feet at NRL level, it was great for me.”
Harry on his love of rugby league
“I always wanted to play footy. I started when I was four, playing under-6. I’ve always been a massive footy fan. Once you hit Year 11 and 12 you understand if you really want to do it or not. For me, I just knew. You had to make a few sacrifices and you miss out on a lot of things but in the end, it’s well worth it if it comes off. With patience and commitment, the right things can happen.”
Harry on the rugby league heartland of CQ
“I think CQ’s a great nursery for rugby league talent and the Yeppoon Seagulls were massive for me. I played all my juniors from under-6 up to under-18 with them and school footy at St Brendan’s and a couple of years with the Capras. It’s a good spot to play footy and there’s plenty of talent around here.”
Harry on fellow CQ product Cameron Munster
“I never played against him or with him in the juniors, but my brother played a little bit of footy with him and I think dad might have coached him. He’s a freak. It’s going to be awesome playing with him next year. I’ll just give him the footy when he wants it.”
Harry on his Origin selection and that memorable debut
“I didn’t know until Wayne called the team list out and my name was the last one he called. I was a bit shocked but excited at the same time.
“I only had the conversation with Wayne just before kick-off. I didn’t want to build myself up too much during the week and play my game too early. I held off until just before kick-off and he told me that he’s probably look at me going on with 15 to 20 minutes to go in the first half and then, depending on how my fitness was, play the rest of the game.
“It was a massive step up. I definitely felt the lift in intensity, contact, everything.”
Harry on the future of Cameron Smith
“I think Smithy’s still weighing up what he wants to do, and I think he’s earned the right to choose what he wants to do and when he wants to do that. He’ll find the right time but for me, I’m fully set on going back to Melbourne and starting training on January 4.”