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NRL 2020: Andrew Johns, Phil Gould at odds over breakout star Harry Grant’s future

Sporting News logo Sporting News 23/07/2020 Sporting News

a man with a football ball on a field © Provided by Sporting News Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns hopes Harry Grant stays with Wests Tigers – but exPanthers administrator and outspoken pundit Phil Gould believes there’s no chance the Melbourne Storm will allow the boom hooker to stay north of the border.

The 22-year-old has been a revelation since joining the Tigers on a historic loan deal for the remainder of the 2020 season in Round 3.

Grant was leading the Dally M count before Friday’s 26-16 loss to the Parramatta Eels and is widely tipped to make his Origin debut for Queensland in November.

The Yeppoon product, who is due to retun to the Storm next season, was this week dubbed the new king of Leichhardt Oval after Tigers fans chanted his name following last week’s 48-0 drubbing of the Brisbane Broncos.

And Johns this week joined Tigers fans in calling for the burgeoning superstar to stay with the joint-venture club long-term.

“I hope he can stay at Wests Tigers … especially if Cameron Smith plays on because he’s going to be behind Brandon Smith and Cameron Smith for another year if Cameron keeps playing,” Johns told Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and the Eighth.

“Every time he plays he’s just one of the best players out there, he’s leading the Dally Ms and it’s just great to see.

“… He competes on all the plays, he’s got polish around the ruck, his ball playing is sensational and now he’s a fan-favourite there at Leichhardt.”

But Grant, who has two seasons remaining on his Storm deal, is still very much a part of the Melbourne's future plans.

And Gould, who spent eight years in the Penrith Panthers’ front office, called on Cameron Smith to retire and clear a path for Grant to claim the No.9 jumper at the Storm.

“There’s no question, there’s no alternative, I wouldn’t be considering any other alternative,” Gould told Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast when asked if the Storm will hold the young gun to his contract.

“He comes back and he’s our hooker, it’s as simple as that.

“That’s the development pathway, that’s the natural progression, that’s the succession planning.

“He’s proved himself ready to go, I think he would add a different dimension to the Melbourne Storm team than Cameron Smith is providing at the moment.

“And Cameron Smith is at the age and stage of his career where he’s had a tremendous run and I think it’s time that this was his last season and that the succession plan is put in place.

“It’s as simple as that, that’s the decision I would be making at the moment.”

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