Cowboys talisman Johnathan Thurston has been the king of Monday night football this year.
But the man who usurped him for the man-of-the-match gong in North Queensland’s obliteration of Parramatta this week may prove to be the club’s vital ingredient in claiming its maiden premiership.
Hooker Jake Granville turned in an amazing performance against the Eels, terrorising the defence at will with his strong running game, laying on two tries and scoring one himself.
His numbers make pretty reading for the Cowboys, who have struggled to find a permanent replacement at No.9 since the retirement of Aaron Payne and the defection of James Segeyaro to Penrith.
Granville ran 146m, broke five tackles, cut through the line three times and made 21 tackles in a massive performance.
Coach Paul Green couldn’t be happier for his former Wynnum-Manly prodigy.
“He’s playing good, Jake,” he said. “He’s been good consistently for us. He adds another dimension to our attack.
“Coming off the back of some of our big guys, they’re bringing him into the game and giving him those opportunities.
“I think as a team we’re getting better at playing with him as well.”
The scary thing for opposition sides in the race to this year’s premiership is that Granville’s ability to link up with Thurston is only going to get better.
“We’re getting better at playing with each other,” Green said.
“Johnno is getting better at playing with Jake and vice-versa.
“Getting to know each other’s games and building those combos which is important.
“He’s getting better as the season goes.”
Green wasn’t totally impressed with the Cowboys’ 46-4 embarrassment of Parramatta, with the game marred by several errors before North Queensland took control in the final 20 minutes.
He said it was hard for players not to stray from the game plan and chase cheap points against lesser quality opposition.
“There’s more opportunities than what you normally see in a game,” Green said in his post-match comments.
“Sometimes you can find it a temptation to try and make more of those opportunities than what we probably normally would.
“What happens is you sort of lose your rhythm a bit as a team.
“That was probably the case tonight.”