James Graham (rugby league)

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James Graham
James Graham 2011.jpg
Graham while playing for St Helens in 2011
Personal information
Born (1985-09-10) 10 September 1985 (age 29)
Maghull, Merseyside, England
Height 189 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 108 kg (17 st 0 lb)[1]
Playing information
Position Prop
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2003–11 St. Helens 220 51 0 0 204
2012– Canterbury-Bankstn. 71 7 0 0 28
Total 291 58 0 0 232
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2006–07 Great Britain 5 2 0 0 8
2008–14 England 20 1 0 0 4
As of 1 October 2013
Source: RLP St Helens profile

James Graham is an English professional rugby league footballer for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs of the National Rugby League (NRL). An England international representative prop forward, he previously played in Super League for English club, St. Helens, having won a number of Championships and Challenge Cups with them before moving to Sydney for the 2012 NRL season.

Professional playing career[edit]

St Helens[edit]

James signed with Saints as a junior in 2000, eventually playing his way through the Junior Academies before making his senior debut against Castleford Tigers in August 2003. Graham already had leadership experience after captaining the England Academy in a famous series victory in Australia in 2004.[citation needed]

Graham played for St Helens from the interchange bench in their 2006 Challenge Cup Final victory against the Huddersfield Giants. Then-Great Britain coach Brian Noble selected Graham in a friendly against New Zealand earlier in 2006 in the Castlemaine XXXX Test in which he made a try scoring debut at Knowsley Road. St Helens reached the 2006 Super League Grand final to be contested against Hull FC and Graham played from the interchange bench in Saints' 26-4 victory. As 2006 Super League champions, St Helens faced 2006 NRL Premiers the Brisbane Broncos in the 2007 World Club Challenge. Graham played from the interchange bench in Saints' 18-14 victory.

The young prop made a name for himself in 2007's Super League XII, making 27 first team appearances and being named Saints’ Young Player of the Year, for his mature, powerful performances which has also seen him named as a contender for Super League Young Player of the Year, with competition from Wigan Warriors rival Chris Ashton. He signed a new contract at St. Helens to tie his future at the Knowsley Road based club until 2011.[citation needed]

He was named in the Super League Dream Team for 2008's 2008 season.[2] James won the 2008 Man of Steel award, making him the fourth successive St Helens player to win the prestigious award having beaten rival Jamie Peacock and team mate Leon Pryce. He follows team mates James Roby, Paul Wellens, Jamie Lyon, Paul Sculthorpe (twice) and Sean Long in being named Man of Steel.

At the end of the season Graham was selected for the England squad to compete in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup tournament in Australia.[3] Group A's first match against Papua New Guinea he played at prop forward in England's victory.

He was named in the Rugby League Writers prop of the year in 2008 and the Rugby League World magazine the following year in 2009.

He was selected to play for England against France in the one-off test in 2010.[4]

Due to an injury to tour skipper Adrian Morley, Graham was handed over the captincy of England's 2010 Four Nations tournament squad, and in doing so became one of the youngest ever captains of the national side.[5]

2011 would be Graham's final year at Saints as a host of NRL clubs covet his signature. Canterbury Bulldogs and Parramatta Eels are thought to head the list of interested clubs. If a deal is agreed, Graham would become yet another English player based in Sydney's west along with Gareth Ellis, Mark Flanagan (both Wests Tigers) and Michael Worrincy of the Penrith Panthers. Other English players currently in Australia include Sam Burgess and younger brothers George Burgess and Luke Burgess at the famous South Sydney Rabbitohs club owned by Gladiator star Russell Crowe, England international and Brisbane Broncos centre Jack Reed and young stand-off Gareth Widdop at the Melbourne Storm.

On the 27th April 2011 it was confirmed by club officials that St Helens RLFC joint captain James Graham will join NRL side Canterbury Bulldogs when his contract expires at the end of the 2011 season. "We did everything practical to persuade James to stay," said Saints chairman Eamonn McManus. "But we respect his wishes and ambitions. There comes a point where you have to just shake his hand and wish him luck." Graham left St Helens with a 4-5 record in finals (1-5 in Super League Grand Finals in 2006, and 2007-2011; and 3-0 in Challenge Cup finals from 2008-2010).[6]


Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg told BBC Radio Merseyside: "It's a huge coup for the club. He brings not just on-field talent, he brings a huge profile off the field. He also brings some very strong leadership qualities to the club. Having met him last year and the way people talk about him from within the UK, he comes with glowing endorsements."[citation needed]

He played 26 games in his debut NRL season and was part of the Bulldogs team which lost the Grand Final to Melbourne Storm. However he was at the centre of the match's most controversial incident when he appeared to bite the left ear of Storm fullback Billy Slater. Graham denied the charge but despite inconclusive video footage [7] was widely condemned and subsequently suspended for 12 matches by the NRL judiciary in a hearing lasting ten minutes.[8] [9]

After Canterbury captain Michael Ennis was ruled out of the 2014 NRL Grand Final due to a foot injury, Graham along with teammate Trent Hodkinson were named co-captains of the Bulldogs for the match.[10]


  1. ^ "Meet the Teams First Team Players". web page. Saints RFC. 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "2008 engage Super League Dream Team". Super League. 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  3. ^ "Purdham earns World Cup call-up". BBC. 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  4. ^ Hadfield, Dave (2010-06-13). "Widdop passes his first Test at a canter". The Independent (UK: Independent Print Limited). Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  5. ^ Hadfield, Dave (22 October 2010). "'I didn't have a clue what league was,' says new England captain". The Independent (UK: independent.co.uk). Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  6. ^ "James Graham eager to break finals losing streak". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2014-09-30. Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  7. ^ Webster, Andrew (5 October 2012). "James Graham cops 12 match ban for biting Billy Slater's ear during the 2012 grand final". Herald Sun (Australia: News Limited). Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "Bulldog James Graham insists he didn't bite Billy Slater". The Daily Telegraph. 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  9. ^ "I'm a lover not a biter; defiant Graham maintains innocence". SMH. 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  10. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/canterbury-bulldogs-captain-michael-ennis-ruled-out-of-nrl-grand-final-james-graham-trent-hodkinson-named-as-cocaptains-20141004-10q8sc.html