Jake Granville is among the options to replace Cameron Smith in the Queensland team.
Jake Granville is among the options to replace Cameron Smith in the Queensland team.

Granville ready for Origin: Green

COWBOYS coach Paul Green has endorsed talented hooker Jake Granville to step up and fill the void left by retiring Maroons legend Cameron Smith.

Smith's longevity means just one other player has worn the No. 9 jersey for Queensland in the past 15 years - Matt Ballin in Game I, 2010 - which has also left the team without a clear replacement following the skipper's sudden retirement on Tuesday.

Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough is highly regarded for his defensive workrate while Roosters co-captain Jake Friend has spent time in the Maroons camp as injury cover for Smith.

Granville is also firmly on Queensland's radar having been part of the Emerging Maroons squad in 2016 and 2017 before coach Kevin Walters told the livewire rake he had "graduated" from the camp this year.

(L-R) Jake Granville, Jake Friend and Andrew McCullough are all possible Cameron Smith replacements for the Maroons.
(L-R) Jake Granville, Jake Friend and Andrew McCullough are all possible Cameron Smith replacements for the Maroons.

The 29-year-old has struggled to recapture his stunning 2015 form which helped the Cowboys win their maiden premiership, but Green believes Granville will thrive if given a chance in the Origin arena.

"He's a terrific defender and certainly a threat out of dummy half and Origin is about that," Green said.

"It's not about the big shift plays, it's probably about teams that can roll up the field well and so I'm sure he'd handle it.

"He's been mentioned in those circles. The best thing he can do is put in a good performance on the weekend so hopefully that's the carrot that's needed."

Green said he was surprised by the timing of Smith's announcement given this year's series opener is just three weeks away, but he believed Queensland's most-capped player had earned the right to go out on his own terms.

"He's been such a wonderful player for Queensland for so long. He's contributed so much so I don't think anyone could be too critical," Green said.

"He's certainly a bit of a marvel the way he can get through the work he does, but also how smart he is on the football field as well.

"He's a thinker and he cares a lot about Queensland and I'm sure it was a pretty tough decision for him to come to."



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