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Harry Grant’s game time gives NRL rookie race a twist

When is it OK to bench an on-loan rookie? Asking for a Panthers fan.

Harry Grant — the NRL’s first ever loan player — is reportedly set to return to the Melbourne Storm for the 2021 NRL season.

His current team the Wests Tigers are out of the finals race, and are looking to the future … one without Grant.

The rookie dummy half is in the Tigers’ side for this weekend, however coach Michael Maguire revealed he will soon begin to test out new spine combinations.

“It’s going to give me an opportunity to look at things over the next few weeks,” Maguire told AAP.

Dally M Rookie of the Year 2010: Matt Gillett

2011: Daly Cherry-Evans

2012: Adam Reynolds

2013: George Burgess

2014: Luke Brooks

2015: Jack Bird

2016: Ashley Taylor

2017: Nick Cotric

2018: Jamayne Isaako

2019: Payne Haas

2020: ?

“I’ll definitely be looking at (options) for next year.

“I want to see the depth of some of the people we have in the organisation.”

Rookie race heats up

How Maguire’s plan plays out could determine who wins the Dally M Rookie of the Year award.

Grant did not play in the first two matches of the season and missed another three with a knee injury, but effective in defence and influential in attack, his brilliance shone between rounds three and 10.

Harry Grant is a difference-maker with the ball in his hands. ( AAP: Brendon Thorne )

He was even leading the entire Dally M competition midway through the season when voting went behind closed doors.

But even if he plays out the year, Grant’s 15 matches would represent just three quarters of the campaign.

No rookie winner since Chris Sandow in 2008 has played fewer matches (or a smaller portion of a season) … and several of Sandow’s 13 matches that year were miraculous.

Crichton’s coming

Who could challenge Grant?

Elusive outside back Stephen Crichton is tied as the competition’s top try scorer, playing for competition leaders Penrith.

Crichton’s scoring consistency puts him in an…

Jack Snape

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