Harry Grant navigates troubled waters in move to Wests Tigers
Three Christmases ago, Harry Grant gave a couple of strangers the gift of life.
It began like many other Christmas days, the Grant family heading down to the water for a swim and a sunbake. But none of them will forget what happened on that fateful day at Oxley Beach in Port Macquarie.
“It sounded like seagulls,” Grant said of the cries for help.
“Me and the old boy didn’t know what was going on, so we swam out. We looked around and there were two people getting sucked out by a rip.
“We swam out to them and the daughter was getting sucked out by the rip, but the mother wouldn’t let her go, she was going with her.
“It was close to 50 metres offshore, past the break. It was pretty scary for a bit there.
“When we thought about it, it was pretty daunting for them. It could have got pretty ugly.
“I did nippers all through school and my dad had grown up on the beach all of my life. It’s not something I thought twice about.
“But for them in that situation, they were panicking a bit.”
Thankfully, Grant and his father, Paul, calmed the couple down and dragged them back to safety.
“Looking back it was pretty cool,” Grant said.
“Afterwards they were very grateful for what we did for them.”
Grant is faced with a different sink-or-swim proposition next week, as the new hooker for the Wests Tigers. The former Storm rake became the first player in NRL history to enter into a loan arrangement as part of a swap with Tigers centre Paul Momirovski for the 2020 season. It took more than three excruciating months for Rugby League Central to sign off on the deal and the moment they finally did, the competition was halted due to the coronavirus outbreak.
That either club would go to so much trouble speaks volumes about a player with just two first-grade games to his credit. The 22-year-old, who is already being spoken about as a bolter for the Queensland Origin team, has been presented with the unique opportunity to replace legendary No.9s Robbie Farah and Cameron Smith in successive seasons.
Grant, however, isn’t looking that far ahead. He must first duke it out with Billy Walters, a close mate from their playing days together at Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast Falcons, for the starting hooker position.
“It’s hard on Bill because he had that spot and we’re competing for just one spot,” Grant said.
“Hopefully it doesn’t tarnish our relationship outside footy, we get on really well. It’s a good thing to have competition there and we’ll keep training hard, see who gets the nod for the return of the comp.”
Walters is adamant the rivalry won’t affect their friendship.
“We’re really good mates,” Walters said.
“I tried to help him as best I can to settle in but he didn’t need it. He’s quite confident and he’s a fantastic footy player so he made that transition pretty easy for himself.”
Walters added with a laugh: “Before we came back to training, I towelled him up a couple of times in tennis – just so he knew I was better than him at that too.”
Grant has settled in well to life at Concord, although he is planning to move to the Shire to be closer to the beach. Momirovski, meanwhile, has settled into Grant’s home in Melbourne after the pair formed an unlikely bond over their transfer ordeal.
Grant hopes his historic loan deal will become the first of many such arrangements in the future.
“For sure, there’s more benefits out of it than negatives,” he said.
“I’ve learned a lot of little things over the last couple of weeks off Madge (coach Michael Maguire) and everyone at Wests Tigers.
“It’s only going to develop players’ games forward, hopefully there is going to be more of it.
“Hopefully they go through a smoother path than what Mommers and I had to go through.”