North Queensland coach Paul Green has restored Jake Granville’s NRL starting spot but might not be done with an experiment aimed at easing pressure on his side’s interchange.
Hooker Granville’s elevation to replace Rory Kostjasyn is Green’s only team change ahead of Thursday’s clash with the winless Sydney Roosters in Townsville.
After 23 consecutive starts, Granville was surprisingly benched in the shock 20-16 loss to Parramatta at the weekend as Green toyed with his use of the interchange following the adjustment to the rule this season.
But Green suggested it might not be the last time he pulled the switch again with Granville, who – after a 12-month stint at Queensland Cup level – emerged as a NRL surprise packet last year, even playing himself into Queensland State of Origin conversations with his stunning campaign for the Cowboys.
“It’s just seeing how the interchange affects how the game’s played,” said Green.
“I think we only used one interchange late to make it seven, so there was certainly less pressure on our rotation.”
Granville said he enjoyed the role off the bench but would relish his return to the starting side.
“We didn’t complete well enough the other night and it’s a different sort of role but, whatever the team needs, I’m happy to do that,” he said.
That change aside, Green kept the faith with the same players who helped North Queensland break their NRL title drought despite the worrying signs in their weekend defeat to the Eels.
They completed just 24 sets, their lowest amount in more than a year, uncharacteristically poor ball handling compounded by weak-willed defence.
Narrow as the margin was, Green said the loss might actually help them learn a lesson they otherwise wouldn’t have recognised had they escaped with a narrow win.
“They need to feel safe, as well, that one mistake or one bad game isn’t going to cost them their spot,” he said.
“But in saying that, we also have a standard we have to play up to. Pretty simple the area we let ourselves down in: we just didn’t hang onto the ball long enough.
“Thursday probably can’t come quick enough.”
Veteran forward Ben Hannant said the Cowboys could get back on track by simply improving their attitude.
“I just think it was concentration. At 63 per cent completion, it’s an attitude thing,” he said.
“For us, we’ve just got to stick to what we do best and build pressure.”