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|Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:51 pm Post subject: Zane Musgrove Has Been Touted As A Future ...
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Zane Musgrove Has Been Touted As A Future Cornerstone Of The Bunnies Pack
Rugby League Week
BY Shayne Bugden
23 Feb 2017
"He has skills for a forward that some blokes in our game don't possess"
Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess, Adam Reynolds, John Sutton – Souths are well off for big stars, which begs the question: why is RLW running a big story on Zane Musgrove, of all people – a raw 20-year-old who's only played six games of first grade?
The answer lies in the Rabbitohs' contract situation. A quick look through the roster reveals that the Auckland-born prop has been locked in until the end of 2020, the same as 'GI' – and only one other Bunny, premiership-winning half Reynolds, has been signed on for longer.
Teams don't make moves like that unless they're certain a youngster will hit the heights – and when RLW took a look at how Musgrove has risen to first grade, it quickly became easy to see why the Bunnies reached that conclusion.
A product of Auckland-based side Mangere East, the front-rower was scouted by Souths as a 16-year-old and invited over the ditch to trial for their SG Ball team. It was the youngster's first trip overseas – and he made the journey without his parents.
"I remember it was very hot, I wasn't used to the weather when I came over," Musgrove recalls. "To be honest, I thought I wasn't going to make it. They said they'd call us back if we made it, and it took a while."
Once the Bunnies eventually tagged him, Zane once again made the trip without his mum and dad and got to work learning the prop's trade in a strange city. First he stayed with an aunt, then he moved over to "a home with a lot of Souths boys".
That determination to find his feet spoke volumes for his drive, according to North Sydney's Ben Gardiner, who coached Musgrove in Souths' NYC team in 2014, before they both moved to the Bears the following year.
"And his character, as well," Gardiner adds. "He's done a lot of it on his own ... family-wise ... he moved into share accommodation where he had to fight for himself.
"He's quietly spoken but I tell you what, don't get that mixed up with the fact that he's strong-willed and knows what he wants."
Props take a while to round into their games so it's no surprise that Musgrove was a bit of a diamond in the rough at first.
Gardiner says he and his staff set about improving two aspects of Zane's play in particular: his "young kids'-type offload" which was "thrown out the back whenever he felt it was on", and his habit of lunging in defence, which had to be corrected to make him more efficient and guarantee him more time than the 10-minute stints he was getting back then.
It didn't take too long for the 110kg forward to sort them both out.
"He's someone who's really willing to learn," Gardiner continues. "I particularly think his coachability has really allowed him to improve his game at a rapid rate. Now he possesses nice skills for a forward, which some in our game today don't possess. He can pass really well, has a good offload — and as well as that, he's really strong in defence."
And tough? You bet your house he is.
Musgrove hadn't been in the under-20s for too long when he had his first major injury, and it was an absolute doozy.
"I remember the feeling — my whole hip just cracked in and out," he says.
It's one of the most painful injuries a player can get — just ask the Tigers' Chris Lawrence, who was in agony after dislocating his hip in 2011 — and it kept Musgrove out of action for six months.
But amazingly, as soon as it happened, he tried to play through it.
"I carried on and played a little bit," he reveals. "But they got me off. I couldn't even run, couldn't even sprint."
A knee injury followed with the Bears in 2015, keeping him out for about six weeks. Souths gave him his NRL debut in the round-one romp over the Roosters last year, in which he made 35 tackles with just two misses, and rolled for 96 metres. It was a great effort, but he wouldn't be sighted again until round 21.
"It turned out my wrist was broken," Musgrove explains. "Until this day I still don't know how I did it in the game. I've watched it and I don't know how it happened."
Rejoining the side as they mounted their late-season turnaround, he lasted just one match before his high pain tolerance was tested again.
"Yeah, I broke my other wrist as well," he laughs. "It was in the Melbourne game, just with my fend. Apparently it [the wrist] had been bad before that, before I even did the first one I used to strap that side because I knew it was unstable ... I just had to play the rest of the season."
Gardiner's not surprised Musgrove kept on despite the injury.
"We knew he was some sort of prospect when we saw little things like that ... to be able to get back out there on the field when he's got the pretty bad injury like that, and want to do it as well," he observes.
"You've got your players who go 'Oh well, this isn't important enough [to play through pain for]'. But it's always important to Zane to perform well not just for himself, but also for his team."