Grant-Hunt Maroons connection runs deep

·3-min read

A six-year-old Harry Grant would tag along to Yeppoon Seagulls under-14 training and do his best to tackle Ben Hunt while his dad and coach Paul 'Piggy' Grant watched on.

Fast forward 18 years and the Rockhampton pair will share the hooking duties for Queensland in Wednesday's State of Origin opener in Sydney.

"Everyone called him Piggy," Hunt said of Grant's father.

"He was a bit of an old-school coach but we really loved him."

"I remember Harry coming to our training trying to tackle us all ... it'll be a pretty special night for us to run out and play the same position."

Grant has overcome a bout of flu and says a recent groin twinge won't inhibit him at Accor Stadium, having arrived late in camp on Wednesday night as a precaution.

The Storm talent is set to play off the bench with the in-form Hunt - currently leading the Dally M medal count - awarded a surprise start in the No.9.

"It will be special to play with him," Grant said.

"I remember looking up to him as a little kid. I have always looked up to him.

"My old man used to coach him and I was the tee boy at training and I tried to take him on a bit ... he was carving teams up back then as well."

Hunt was overlooked for the series-opener last year and Grant was picked despite his struggles with a groin injury.

Queensland were flogged 50-6 with Hunt recalled for game two where he starred in a face-saving win.

"His performances in a Queensland jersey are always very special," Grant said of the St George Illawarra captain and former Bronco.

"He's copped his fair share over the years and I don't think he deserved the majority of it.

"It's good to see him back playing some good footy and at the top of the Dally M."

Grant, who has successfully shared hooking duties with Brandon Smith at the Storm, was equally as damaging off the bench in his 2020 debut, scoring a try in a tight win at Suncorp Stadium.

He said on that occasion he'd only sought direction from coach Wayne Bennett 20 minutes before kick off and that he won't overthink the assignment this year.

"I want to keep a simple mindset for the game and if the opportunity comes to run then I will run," he said.

Opposed sessions against Queensland Cup sides Ipswich Jets and Souths Logan on Thursday and Saturday will offer the chance to fine-tune things.

"We've got a lot of special players in the team. We need to combine well this week and get used to each other's games," Grant said.

"It's a different role but I played the majority of last year off the bench. I'll take a bit out of last season and try put that into the Origin arena."

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