Jarrad Grant is thriving in his new role on the wing at Western Bulldogs

Jarrad Grant2
A CHANGE of role has reinvigorated the career of Western Bulldogs midfielder Liam Picken, and may do the same for the enigmatic Jarrad Grant..

Under new coach Luke Beveridge, the at-times inconsistent forward has shifted to the wing, producing three solid games since coming back into the Dogs’ line-up in Round 9.

Against Brisbane last Saturday he racked up 22 disposals, the second-highest tally of his 69-game career.

Assistant coach Daniel Giansiracusa, who spent six seasons playing alongside Grant in the Bulldogs forward line, said the switch had given Grant “a new lease on life’’.

“Playing exclusively as a forward you can get a bit stale,’’ Giansiracusa said. “Luke saw that he could play in that position (wing), not just as a lead-up forward and I think he likes to free guys’ minds up a bit and play them in different positions.

“As a new coach, he looked at his list and looked at ways to find out more about the players. A bit like Liam Picken, he didn’t pigeon-hole him into a role or position. Luke’s done that with a few of the guys and some of those moves have really come off.’’

Grant agreed: “I guess it frees you up from having a defender follow you around all day and I’m relishing being able to run over the whole ground. It breathes a bit of fresh air into life.

“Luke’s big on versatility and players being able to play multiple positions. That sits perfectly with me. I can still get a little bit of time up forward, maybe 75-25 (per cent) between wing and forward.’’

Giansiracusa said the switch had brought an intensity and an added defensive dimension to Grant’s game.

“Jarrad would agree that he lacked urgency at times. With the change of role, being closer to footy and in and around the action more often, his urgency has to be at a really high level. He has to be right in amongst it offensively and defensively.

“You’re at the coalface and if you’re not urgent you get brushed aside.’’

Grant said his past three matches had “probably been my best few weeks for the club’’ but felt he still had considerable work to do.

“I want to be a consistent AFL player. If I continue to play the way I have in the past few weeks, then hopefully I can end the year having had a pretty consistent few months on the wing.

“Just joining in, getting involved, helping out with team defence. There are a lot of aspects of the game that I just need to do on a consistent basis.’’

He said midfield coaches Joel Corey and Steven King had helped fast-track his understanding of how to play the new role.

“They have helped us improve our work at stoppages and also helped me personally with my running patterns and my set-ups,’’ Grant said.

“Honing down on getting to the right positions and spreading away from there, whether it’s offensively or defensively. Just learning how to stay involved in the game.’’

Giansiracusa, who spent a fair chunk of his 14-season career going through the midfield, says Grant has the raw ingredients to thrive as a wingman.

“He’s got extreme pace — when he takes off not many can go with him — and he can be an architect who gets the footy going our way,’’ he said.

“Jarrad reads the play really well, he’s got a smart footy brain and he’s reached the point where he’s actually one of our more experienced players.

“He can help his younger teammates out a bit and he’s good in that regard. Before now, he’d probably never seen himself in that light, but I think he’s really enjoying that aspect of his footy and its coming out in his game.

“Murph (captain Bob Murphy) has really encouraged him to grow in that leadership area. Granty does it in his own way, but he’s really good in that side of things out on the ground. He’s matured a bit.

“He understands that it gets to a point in your career where people make calls on you. He’s had potential and plenty of talent, but he’s got really fit and looks like he’s ready to take the next step in his career.’’