Welcome to life as an NRL player in Sydney, Harry Grant.
That was the message from Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire after hearing his boom hooker had been tipped for Queensland State of Origin selection after just one game for the joint venture.
Maguire said the 22-year-old would not be used to the spotlight after spending the previous two seasons at AFL-mad Melbourne before arriving in Sydney on a unique one year swap deal with Paul Momirovski.
However, he backed Grant to deal with being thrust into the NRL fishbowl after creating an Origin buzz ahead of Sunday’s NRL clash with Gold Coast Titans in Brisbane.
Maguire didn’t play down the impact of the former Storm rake after Grant’s impressive Tigers debut in last round’s 28-16 win over Cronulla.
But he still seemed bemused on Saturday when told of reports Queensland selector Darren Lockyer already had Grant in the Maroons No.9 mix for the end of year interstate series.
“I think he is learning what it is like to live in Sydney with a lot of noise and those sorts of things around rugby league,” said Maguire, after chuckling when told about Grant’s Maroons hype.
“Down in Melbourne you don’t get a lot of that noise. (But) it’s part of becoming a great player within the competition.
“But Harry handles it very well. You can see by the way he handles himself around the club.
“He’s a really hard worker. As long as he keeps doing that and keeps his head focused on what he wants to be as a footballer then that is what matters the most.”
Maguire inadvertently added to the buzz by suggesting the Tigers may try and extend Grant’s stay.
Under the current terms of NRL’s first loan deal, Grant will return to Melbourne next year and Momirovski will come back to the Tigers.
Asked if it was awkward having Grant for just one year, Maguire said: “Not at all.
“At the end of the day we knew that when he signed up. We’ve got plenty of football to be played and circumstances are always possibly changing.”
Former Canberra, Penrith and Warriors coach Matthew Elliott believed the Tigers should do all they can to hang on to Grant, saying his game helped ignite veteran five-eighth Benji Marshall.
“If I was the Wests Tigers … I’d be changing the locks on his doors,” Elliott told NRL.com.
“I would not be letting him go because he changed the whole way they played (against Cronulla).
“That is the best I have seen Benji Marshall play in ages and there is a reason for it – he got quality service (from Grant).”