James Graham (rugby League)
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James Graham Rugby League

James Graham
James Graham Canterbury Bulldogs.jpg
Personal information
Full nameJames Graham[1]
Born (1985-09-10) 10 September 1985 (age 34)
Maghull, Merseyside, England
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight17 st 0 lb (108 kg)[2]
Playing information
PositionProp, Loose forward
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2003-11 St Helens 225 53 0 0 212
2012-17 135 9 0 0 36
2018- 45 1 0 0 4
Total 405 63 0 0 252
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2006- Great Britain 9 3 0 0 12
2008- England 44 3 0 0 12
2015-16 NRL All Stars 2 0 0 0 0
2019- England 9s 3 0 0 0 0
As of 17 November 2019
Source: [3][4][5]

James Graham (born 10 September 1985) is an English professional rugby league footballer who plays as a prop for the St. George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL, and England and Great Britain at international level.

He previously played for St Helens in the Super League,[6] having won a number of Championships and Challenge Cups with them before moving to Sydney for the 2012 NRL season.[3][4] He has played for the Canterbury Bulldogs in the National Rugby League, and has played for the NRL All Stars.

Graham is considered somewhat of an unlucky figure in his playing career when it comes to grand finals, losing six grand finals in a row including five in a row with his former club St Helens in the Super League competition across the 2007-2011 seasons, and with the Canterbury Bulldogs in the Australian National Rugby League in 2012.[7] He then went on to play in the 2014 NRL Grand Final defeat by the South Sydney Rabbitohs, and he also featured for England in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final defeat by Australia.[8][9]


Graham was born in Maghull, Merseyside, England.

Professional playing career

St Helens

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

Graham played for St Helens from the interchange bench in their 2006 Challenge Cup Final victory against Huddersfield. 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 début 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 substitute 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[] which has also seen him named as a contender for Super League Young Player of the Year, with competition from Wigan rival Chris Ashton. He signed a new contract at St. Helens to tie his future at the Knowsley Road based club until 2011.[]

He was named in the Super League Dream Team for 2008's 2008 season.[10] 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 (two spells) and Sean Long in being named Man of Steel.

Graham playing for St Helens in 2011

He was named in the Rugby League Writers' team of the year in 2008 and the Rugby League World magazine the following year in 2009.[]

He played in the 2009 Super League Grand Final defeat by the Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

2011 would be Graham's final year at Saints as a host of NRL clubs coveted his signature. Canterbury Bulldogs and Parramatta Eels were thought to head the list of interested clubs.

On 27 April 2011 it was confirmed by club officials that St Helens 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).[23]

He played in the 2011 Super League Grand Final defeat by the Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford.[24][25]


He played 26 games in his début 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 [26] was widely condemned and subsequently suspended for 12 matches by the NRL Judiciary in a hearing lasting ten minutes.[27][28]

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.[29] At the Bulldogs 2015 season launch, Graham was named the club captain for the club's 80th season, replacing former rake Michael Ennis. It was also announced that the Englishman will be joined in the role with newly appointed vice-captains, Aiden Tolman and Frank Pritchard.

St George Illawarra Dragons

On the 5th of September during NRL 360, Graham announced that he had signed a 3 year deal with the St George Illawarra Dragons starting in the 2018 NRL season. The deal was confirmed by his previous club the Bulldogs & future club the Dragons on the 7th of September 2017.[30] In Graham's first year at St George, the club qualified for the finals and defeated Brisbane in week one 48-18 before being eliminated the following week by South Sydney losing 13-12.[31]

Graham played in the club's first 11 games of the 2019 NRL season but was taken from the field during St George's 22-9 loss against Cronulla. Scans later revealed that Graham had suffered a fibula fracture and was ruled out for 8 weeks.[32]

In Round 21 of the 2019 NRL season, Graham played his 400th first grade game as St George defeated the Gold Coast 40-28 at Kogarah Oval.[33][34]

Graham made a total of 19 appearances for St George in the 2019 NRL season as the club endured one of their worst ever seasons finishing 15th on the table.[35]

Representative career

Graham representing England in 2011
Graham warming up for England in 2016

James made his International début for Great Britain in the 2006, scoring twice in a mid-season international with New Zealand. He missed the Tri-Nations later that season after injuring himself during a drunken episode involving his St Helens teammates. He went on to make another three Great Britain appearances which would all come in the 2007 All Golds Tour before the nation would be ceased and split up into three countries: England, Scotland and Wales.

The following year in June, James made his début for the re-established England team against France in Toulouse. James would go on to play for England in one more fixture, against Wales in Doncaster, before being selected in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup team.[36] He would go on to appear in 3 of England's 4 appearances in their campaign.

He was selected to play for England against France in the one-off test in 2010.[37]

Due to an injury to tour captain Adrian Morley, Graham was handed over the captaincy of England's 2010 Four Nations tournament squad, and in doing so became one of the youngest ever captains of the national side.[38] Graham played in the 2011 Four Nations and 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

Graham was the vice-captain of England at the 2014 Four Nations. He captained the team in their match against Samoa.

At the conclusion of the 2015 domestic season, Graham was selected to play for England in the 2015 end-of-year internationals against France and New Zealand.[39] He appeared in the France test match where England went on to rout their opponents.[40] He made history in the opening test-match of the series against New Zealand as he officially became the most capped England international, making his 28th appearance for England, since their re-inauguration from Great Britain. He expressed his pride and joy after realising he had now officially beaten Kevin Sinfield's record.[41]

In October 2016, Graham was selected in the England squad for the 2016 Four Nations. Before the tournament, he captained the team in a test match against France in the absence of 'usual' captain Sam Burgess after he was unavailable due to suspension. Graham captained England to a 40-6 victory.

In October 2017 he was selected in the England squad for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.[42] England made it to the final but were defeated by Australia 6-0.[43]

In 2018 he was selected for England against France at the Leigh Sports Village.[44]

On 9 October, Graham was selected as captain of the England 2019 Rugby League World Cup 9s Squad.[45]

He was selected in squad for the 2019 Great Britain Lions tour of the Southern Hemisphere.[46]


  1. ^ "James Graham". Companies House. Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ "Meet the Teams First Team Players". web page. Saints RFC. 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Profile at loverugbyleague.com". Love Rugby League. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Statistics at rugbyleagueproject.org". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ "England Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". England Rugby League. Archived from the original on 17 April 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ "St Helens profile". Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ Proszenko, Adrian (30 September 2014). "Canterbury Bulldogs' Dally M-winning prop James Graham eager to break finals losing streak". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ Pengilly, Adam (2 December 2017). "Rugby League World Cup 2017: England's James Graham won't apologise for sledging". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ Lane, Daniel (11 October 2014). "How James Graham gave an 11-year-old boy a grand final memory he'll cherish forever". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ "2008 engage Super League Dream Team". Super League. 15 September 2008. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 2008.
  11. ^ "Rhinos Take Super League Title". Sky News. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 2019.
  12. ^ Burke, David (11 October 2009). "Smith's Crisp". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ AFP (11 October 2009). "Leeds makes it Super League hat-trick". ABC News. Retrieved 2019.
  14. ^ AAP (11 October 2009). "Leeds claim third successive Grand Final". nrl.com. Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 2019.
  15. ^ Linfoot, Ben (10 October 2009). "Grand Final: Leeds Rhinos 18 St Helens 10". Sky Sports. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ Correspondent (12 October 2009). "Potter refuses to blame video ref". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2019.
  17. ^ Fletcher, Paul (10 October 2009). "St Helens 10-18 Leeds Rhinos". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "Third time unlucky as Saints fail to halt Rhinos' charge to title". Liverpool Daily Post. 12 October 2009. Retrieved 2019.
  19. ^ "Sinfield hails winning culture". The Daily Mirror. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ Stewart, Rob (12 October 2009). "Lee Smith targets place in England rugby union team after Grand Final victory". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2019.
  21. ^ "Sinfield hails historic title win". BBC Sport. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 2019.
  22. ^ "Leeds Rhinos fans in homecoming welcome". Yorkshire Evening Post. 12 October 2009. Retrieved 2019.
  23. ^ Proszenko, Adrian (30 September 2014). "Canterbury Bulldogs' Dally M-winning prop James Graham eager to break finals losing streak". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 2 October 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  24. ^ "Leeds claim Grand Final glory as inspired Rob Burrow sinks St Helens". Guardian. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 2019.
  25. ^ "St Helens 16 Leeds 32". Daily Telegraph. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 2019.
  26. ^ 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 2014.
  27. ^ Webster, Andrew (6 October 2012). "Bulldog James Graham insists he didn't bite Billy Slater". The Daily Telegraph. News Corp. Retrieved 2012.
  28. ^ Jackson, Glenn (4 October 2012). "I'm a lover not a biter; defiant Graham maintains innocence". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2012.
  29. ^ Carayannis, Michael (4 October 2014). "Canterbury Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis ruled out of NRL grand final, James Graham, Trent Hodkinson named as co-captains". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2016.
  30. ^ "James Graham: England prop to join St George Illawarra Dragons". BBC Sport. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  31. ^ https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nrl-premiership/live-nrl-south-sydney-rabbitohs-v-st-george-illawarra-dragons-live-score-updates-news-blog/news-story/434579d0fdbe938577ce91970d402046
  32. ^ "Dragons suffer double blow with Graham, Lafai sidelined". NRL.com.
  33. ^ "Dragons vs Titans: Gold Coast Titans defence slammed as 'too easy for first grade'". Sporting News.
  34. ^ "'Once in a generation' Graham to celebrate 400th game". Fox Sports.
  35. ^ "Paul McGregor facing the axe as St. George Illawarra Dragons coach following horror season". Sporting News.
  36. ^ "Purdham earns World Cup call-up". BBC Sport. BBC. 7 October 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  37. ^ Hadfield, Dave (13 June 2010). "Widdop passes his first Test at a canter". The Independent. UK: Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 2010.
  38. ^ 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 2010.
  39. ^ "McNamara names 24-man squad for 2015 International Series". England Rugby League. 11 October 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  40. ^ "England demolish France 84-4 in record win". Sky Sports. Sky UK. 24 October 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  41. ^ "Graham's joy at England RL cap record". SBS News. SBS. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  42. ^ "England rugby league World Cup squad revealed - and James Roby is back in the fold". Mirror. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  43. ^ Davidson, John (2 December 2017). "England suffer World Cup final heartbreak in 6-0 defeat". The Independent. Retrieved 2018.
  44. ^ "Tom Johnstone marks debut with England hat-trick against France". Guardian. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 2019.
  45. ^ "Sam Tomkins eager to lift inaugural World 9s title with England Down Under". Mirror. 16 October 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  46. ^ "Zak Hardaker shock inclusion in 24-man Great Britain squad for tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea". Telegraph. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 2019.

External links

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