Harry Grant admits he may have to make an "SOS" call to NRL legend Cameron Smith ahead of the Melbourne Storm's do-or-die NRL finals clash with the Sydney Roosters on Friday night. Grant's performance in last week's thrashing by Brisbane in week one of the finals was called out by league Immortal Andrew Johns, who said the representative hooker looked "tired" during the 26-0 drubbing.
Grant was part of the Kangaroos squad that won the World Cup towards the end of 2022 and the hooker has had a busy year after playing all three games for Queensland in the Maroons' victorious State of Origin series. However, Johns says the impact of a long and brutal NRL season, plus the added burden of representative footy looked to have taken its toll on Grant during a flat performance against the red-hot Broncos.
'ASKING FOR TROUBLE': Shock Bellamy twist after Ryan Papenhuyzen injury
'DON'T GIVE A S***': Wayne Bennett spills on Cameron Munster fallout
“I think there’s a few factors here. Firstly, they looked tired to me, particularly Harry Grant,” Johns said on SEN. “If I was (Storm coach) Craig Bellamy, I don’t let Harry Grant put his boots on until the last training run. He looked really tired, Harry.
“(Cameron) Munster has been unusually subdued; I don’t know what’s going on there.” Munster - like Grant - was also an integral part of the Maroons' Origin squad and Kangaroos World Cup-winning team.
“They do look tired to me. They do. A lot of those key players have played a lot of tough footy in the past few seasons, and it was a World Cup season last year so it's a limited preparation, and then all those blokes like Harry Grant and Cam Munster playing State of Origin. For me it’s telling on them.”
Harry Grant flags Cameron Smith 'SOS' call
While Grant has stopped short of blaming fatigue for his display against Brisbane in week one of the finals, the 25-year-old does admit he was short of his best. The crafty No.9 also admits that he hasn't tapped into the wealth of experience of Storm great Smith, who is widely regarded as the one of the greatest hookers to play the game.
"I haven't probably done as much as I should," Grant conceded when asked about whether he'd leaned on Smith for finals advice. "We've got some good coaches and senior players that have been in this position as well, so that's probably where I have been. But I might have to pick the phone up and go SOS to Smithy."
Melbourne's qualifying final loss to Brisbane was the club's first against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium since 2009, but the third straight finals defeat for Bellamy's Storm. In fact, since Smith retired after guiding his side to the 2020 NRL premiership, Melbourne's record in finals footy is 1-3 - with the solitary victory coming in a resounding qualifying final victory over Manly in 2021.
That victory was followed by a preliminary final loss to eventual premiers, Penrith, while the Storm were bundled out in week one of the 2022 finals after a shock loss to Canberra. Melbourne skipper Christian Welch said his side's recent finals record was not something to worry about. He pointed to Brisbane's hoodoo-breaking victory against the Storm last week as evidence that history counts for very little.
"I think if you start looking at historical things, even the whole talk about us against the Broncos up there, it doesn't really matter too much, to be honest," Welch said. "I think we're just really trying to fix a pretty disappointing performance."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.