Grant’s stocks continue to rise as Beasties go in search of consistency at TG Millner
By Matt Findlay
With two wins and three losses from the opening five weeks of the Shute Shield season consistency has been somewhat lacking at Woollahra Oval so far in 2019, but there has been one constant in Eastern Suburbs’ start to the year – the form of halfback Jack Grant.
Grant’s consistent, threatening presence at the base of the ruck has been an undeniable highlight of the Beasties’ campaign so far and has continued his recent trend of producing performances far beyond his 25 years.
In fact, despite being a diminutive figure, you could easily argue he’s been one of, if not the biggest danger with ball in hand for the Beasties, his four tries in the opening five game proving as much.
His stocks continue to rise as a result too, as they have consistently since he made his top flight debut midway through the 2015 season.
Since then he’s earned National Rugby Championship gigs in 2017 and 2018 and he made an Emerging Waratahs appearance earlier this year too.
That rise and the fact his best years look to still be ahead of him beg the obvious question – when, rather than if, will Grant crack the next level?
“[Super Rugby] is definitely still the goal, I think taking the next step to the higher level is the goal for everyone playing at this level,” Grant told Rugby News.
“If I’m lucky enough I’ll take the opportunity but I’ll just keep trying to play good footy and let anything like that take care of itself.”
Grant also picked up a rare honour in Easts’ Anzac Day defeat to Randwick, winning the club’s Clarence Wallach Medal following the 23-15 defeat at Coogee Oval.
Wallach was one of six Australian players involved in the country’s first Test victory over New Zealand on foreign soil, who fought in World War I and never made it home. The medal is awarded for the most courageous individual effort in the Anzac Day clash.
“Obviously you’d prefer to get the win but it is nice to get those individual rewards, especially being such a prestigious one,” Grant said.
Grant will be gunning to continue his stellar form in Saturday’s sixth round trip to TG Millner, where the Beasties will face competition leaders Eastwood.
While it’s a chance for Easts to score consecutive wins for the first time this season having snapped a three-game losing streak against West Harbour last weekend, knocking off the in-form Woodies would send a deafening message to their other rivals too.
“We’ve started to get back on track in the last couple of weeks and I think a lot of that has to do with everyone taking a bit more responsibility in their roles,” Grant said.
“We want to be playing with quick ruck-speed so it’s really important for us to get the go-forward we need for that to happen and we started getting there last weekend, so that’s the main focus for us this weekend against a big pack, and a tough side.”
A product of Central West Rugby Union club Orange City, Grant’s side is also looking to continue building towards one of the club’s marquee, annual events, which provides the young half with a genuine homecoming.
Beasties will once again make their Beach to Bush trip to Orange, this year on June 1, where they’ll face the so-far resurgent Gordon Highlanders in round nine.
This year’s Beach to Bush Round is Easts’ third trip to Orange’s Wade Park and continue their commitment to promoting the game in the Central West region.
It’s an appropriate commitment too, Grant said, considering the affinity his club’s always had with the region. In fact, half a dozen of the Beasties’ Shute Shield side alone are products of Orange or Orange-based schools.
“We’ve always had a lot of guys from the country but right now it seems like they’re all from Orange and just around there, there is a lot in our side at the moment and that’s definitely a good thing,” Grant said, heaping praise on one of those players in rookie winger Dan Donato too.
“I actually think Dan’s been one of our best so far this year and it’s been really good to see him get a crack because we all see how much work he puts in off the field, so it’s a good reward for him and he’s done really well.”
Grant and his Beasties face Eastwood from 3pm on Saturday afternoon.