James Graham: My rugby league future still up in the air
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 16/05/20 3:24pm
England and St. George Illawarra star James Graham chats exclusively to Sky Sports about his career plans for the future and what they might hold as the NRL closes in on resuming in Australia...
The 34-year-old Liverpudlian spent nine seasons with boyhood club St Helens in Super League before departing for the NRL and Australia in 2012. There, he represented the Canterbury Bulldogs for six years, before moving to St.George Illawarra ahead of the 2018 season.
At the conclusion of the current season, Graham will be out of contract, however. Covid19 had put all contract talks on hold, but negotiations can now be started again.
Has he sat down with St George or spoken to anybody else as yet?
"The answer to that is no, I haven't spoken to anyone," Graham said, speaking as a guest on Golden Point Vodcast.
"I understand the situation that I'm in and all the circumstances that come with that so I'm in a position where I've got to earn something and I'm comfortable with that.
"There's keep playing or hang up the boots, and there's a lot of stuff that's going to come into that.
"I am starting to look at different opportunities outside rugby league because I know that it's impending that that's going to happen.
"In terms of continuing to play, I love playing our sport, I'm passionate about playing our sport, but a week's a long time in rugby league and in between, the years can change.
"Physical injury can change things too and that's not lost on me, so hopefully, I'm fit and healthy come the end of the season and then someone sees some value in me playing somewhere."
Between 2006 and 2011, Graham was part of a St Helens group which made a phenomenal six consecutive Grand Finals. Having tasted glory in 2006 though, Saints lost the next five on the bounce - four times to Leeds, once to Wigan.
Graham will turn 35 in September, were the option to complete the circle in his career and potentially end it back with his home-club Saints on the table, might that interest him?
If St Helens CEO Mike Rush were to ring him, would he answer the call?
"I've blocked Rushy's number! He wouldn't be able to get through. I'm sick of him calling me up asking for favours, signed shirts, the lot!" Graham laughs.
"His number's blocked so he'd have to go off a private number, and I don't normally pick them up. Look, at the moment I'm concentrating on playing well for my team now.
"I owe it to them [St George] to give it my best and what will happen, will happen. I'm sounding like a politician but I need to earn something, at the moment I haven't even got something to look at so I'm determined to keep as fit and healthy as possible and hopefully something will come along.
"I am still a Saints fan, and that will be with me forever. So, I don't know.
"We'll see, a week is a long time in sport and being as honest as possible, I'm really happy here at St George Illawarra, I really am and I owe a lot to this club.
"They've done a lot for me, so first and foremost, I respect what they've done and how they've treated me.
"I don't think it's fair to talk about playing for someone else when I owe them everything this year and that's what I'm going to give them."
And the dream situation? Would it be to remain with St George beyond this campaign? Or to return to Super League?
"I genuinely don't know.
"Normally, in a lot of aspects to my life, I do like to plan things out, but look there's a lot of variables at play and obviously with the coronavirus happening, that has thrown another spanner into the works.
"I guess we'll see, but I can't stress enough, I'm all in this year for St George and that's the only way you can play.
"We'll see what happens after that."
To listen to all of that and more, click play on the video above to watch our full exclusive chat with James Graham on the Golden Point Vodcast.