NRL 2021: Storm thrash Roosters, Harry Grant ‘blown them to smithereens’


The Melbourne Storm have been the benchmark for a long time but while Cameron Smith is gone, a new star has taken his place.

Melbourne Storm hooker Harry Grant is once again showing he is the man to take the mantle from Cameron Smith.

Smith was an institution in Melbourne, having played nearly two decades leading the club, Queensland and Australia around the park.

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Leaving big shoes to fill with his retirement, it would have been easy to think that anyone who took over Smith’s role would struggle to make it his own in Smith’s shadow.

Well a 20-4 win over the Sydney Roosters has shown that Harry Grant is the future of the No. 9 jersey in Melbourne.

The dominant victory over the Storm’s great rivals was the signal he’d arrived in Melbourne with Fox League’s Michael Ennis blown away by his performance to dismantle the Roosters.

Ennis, a representative hooker in his own right, heaped praise on Grant as the heir apparent to Cameron Smith’s mantle.

“I remember talking to Matty Johns about him and I hadn’t seen a lot of Harry play,” Ennis revealed.

“It was back in 2019 and he said that Grant was playing that well in the Queensland Cup that he could play Origin.

“He said he is that good a player and in the space of 12 months he is one of our elite dummy half’s. He looks like he has been playing for a decade. He provides everything that you need in and around the ruck.

“It’s as good a performance as I’ve seen from a number nine in a long time.

“Harry Grant, his injection, and I say that as a young man, we saw Cameron Smith do it for so long. But this is his fourth game with the Melbourne Storm. By no means are these combinations in concrete. It’s not what we’ve seen from Smith for the last 15 years so long where he’s played with so many of them for so long. He’s hardly been here.

“He’s pulled the Roosters apart, he’s blown them to smithereens around the ruck and you can just see the body language there from the Roosters middles, he is destroying them.”

Andrew Voss said the new Big Three is now officially Cameron Munster, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Harry Grant, which will be the new nucleus of the Storm’s future success, even after Craig Bellamy leaves the club.

The previous Big Three were Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.

But Cronk said there is a secret to their success and it sits in the coaches box.

“There’s no doubt those three players you mention deserve some wraps and the current crop going through are doing what they do but Craig Bellamy is the sole reason why these three players have the careers they are having and will continue for the next 10 years,” Cronk said.

Grant made a massive difference for the Storm, playing a hand in each of the tries.

He threw the pass for Jahrome Hughes to cross from close range, before busting the Roosters up the middle with a scoot from dummy half with Brandon Smith jumping in at dummy half to throw the pass for Papenhuyzen to score.

But then he did it himself to seal the win.

It’s a tough blow for Brandon Smith, who started in the No. 9 jersey but appears to be heading for the exit with Grant likely to take ownership of the role.

Grant has already starred for Queensland in the third State of Origin game last season and is the reigning Dally M rookie of the year.

Corey Parker said “it’s crazy to think he’s being talked about being part of the Big Three”.

“The conundrum for Craig Bellamy is that Harry Grant is an 80 minute player,” Parker added. “He wants to go the 1-2 punch with Brandon Smith and then bringing Harry Grant on, or start with Harry Grant and have Brandon Smith as the good leg speed coming off the bench but it’s not a bad conundrum to have.”

Gorden Tallis said: “There is no doubt, they’re a better team with Harry Grant on the field, I’m sorry Cheese.”

In his post-match press conference, Bellamy praised both Grant and Smith and said Smith may have “taken the edge off” for Grant.

“We might swap it around, I’m not sure,” Bellamy said. “We’ll take it week by week. They’re still working on their combinations every game and every training session we have. Harry’s only played four games for the Storm, he missed a lot of training with his injury after the trial, and you’d like to think those combinations are going to get stronger and stronger the more they train and the more they play.”

Social media appeared to agree that Grant was the future for the Storm.

The Roosters on the other hand were crushed for their performance.

After taking until the final minute of the game to score a try, narrowly avoiding a scoreless game for the first time in five years.

“They’re in trouble,” Anasta said.

“Without Keary, I thought they wouldn’t win the comp.

“It doesn’t mean they won’t make the top four. But we saw tonight, they’ve been a little bit exposed of how far away they actually are.”

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