Graham out of Kiwi clash

PICTURE BY ALEX BROADWAY/SWPIX.COM - Rugby League - Gillette 4 Nations 2011 - England v Australia - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 5/11/11 - James Graham of England.
PICTURE BY ALEX BROADWAY/SWPIX.COM - Rugby League - Gillette 4 Nations 2011 - England v Australia - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 5/11/11 - James Graham of England.

SEAN Long has admitted he retired too early from rugby.

The St Helens legend, who signed for rugby union outfit Preston Grasshoppers last week, quit Super League with a shoulder injury.

But he says he always wanted to the chance to switch codes, and jumped at the chance to join the lower league side.

Long was officially welcomed into the Hoppers circle last week, after signing a contract to the end of the season.

Instrumental in the move was Hoppers assistant coach Karl Fitzpatrick, a former star at RL club Salford, where Long became a coach after retiring from the game following a shoulder injury.

“I had been telling Karl that I thought I had retired a bit early,” said the Wigan-born 35-year-old.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to finish my career here. My brother Karl remembers this as being a real family club, and said I’d enjoy it.”

Head coach Dave Baldwin said: “We’ll get a better idea of where he will play over the next couple of weeks in training.”

But the news of Long’s move came as a shock to Salford football director Steve Simms, who said: “We’re in discussions with Sean at the moment. We didn’t know about it until yesterday. I think he just wants to have a bit of fun.”

During his 12 years with St Helens, Long made 265 appearances and won four Super League titles.

He has also won 21 international caps for England and Great Britain.

Preston chairman Michael Bailey added: “Sean is undoubtedly a legend in rugby league and widely respected by fans of the union code.

“To have a player of his calibre in the team will bring a new found confidence to our players and bring additional skills and abilities to the team.”