Grant on the path to Origin glory
QUEENSLAND great Billy Moore says "superstar" Harry Grant is on his way to becoming the Maroons' next Cameron Smith as Origin coach Kevin Walters admitted he was watching the young Tigers hooker closely.
The coveted Maroons No.9 jersey was owned by Smith for 15 illustrious years before his representative retirement in 2018.
Queensland has still not settled on a long-term successor, but at least five players are in the mix to be Queensland's dummy-half for this year's State of Origin series in November.
Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Grant, Parramatta's Reed Mahoney, premiership-winner Jake Friend, Newcastle's Andrew McCullough and the Maroons incumbent Ben Hunt are all on Walters' radar ahead of the end-of-season series.
Fox Sport Lab statistics reveal Grant - ironically playing at the Tigers on a one-year loan deal because he was behind Smith at the Storm - is on paper leading the race against his rivals.
He has more runs per game (5.5), metres per game (59) and tackle busts (11) than Hunt who is next best with 3.8 runs, 31m and eight tackle busts.
Grant also leads the way in tackles per game (43.5) ahead of Jake Friend (41).
Former Origin great Moore has been so impressed by Grant's performance in the Tigers jersey that he believes the 22-year-old Rockhampton product should be given the chance at Origin level this year.
"Harry Grant is a superstar," Moore said.
"Wind the clock back about 14-odd years ago, when Scotty Sattler was dropped in Origin for an unknown bloke called Cameron Smith. Harry Grant reminds me of something very similar.
"I know I'm putting the ultimate weight on his shoulders but he should definitely be in the Maroons squad this year.
"He just has to be around that group. He's a legitimate superstar.
"He's not a lone wolf though because Reed Mahoney is also going well, so it just depends on what path Kevvie (Walters) wants to go down."
Mahoney is another strong contender for the Maroons No.9 jumper, having already played for Queensland in the Under-20s and was invited to Walters' 33-man Origin emerging camp earlier this year.
The Maroons coach said he had been impressed by both young guns this season.
"I know a lot about both of them," Walters said.
"(Grant) has been biding his time in the Melbourne system which is as good a system as there is so that's great for his development.
"He's been very good in his opening few games for the Tigers and brings a lot to the table for a young guy.
"(Mahoney) plays full of energy and he's played in our Under-20s Queensland team so we're very aware of his talent."