Home is where the heart is for ex-Saints ace Graham

Former Saint James Graham
Former Saint James Graham

Former Saint James Graham says he can’t wait to get back on to home soil for the upcoming England internationals.

The England and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs forward is counting down to the France game at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday so he can hear the passionate English fans in the stands.

It’s been a tough year for me and quite a few of the lads in camp but that all gets put to one side when you represent your country. Playing at this level against France and New Zealand not only excites me but many other people who come together to get behind their country

James Graham

Graham’s last game in the UK was in the 2013 World Cup against New Zealand and he is eager to get back out onto the field again to see the ‘Wall of White’ and rekindle that bond between the players and fans once more.

“International Rugby League is what every player wants to be involved in at the end of the season,” said Graham.

“It’s been a tough year for me and quite a few of the lads in camp but that all gets put to one side when you represent your country. Playing at this level against France and New Zealand not only excites me but many other people who come together to get behind their country.

“The noise levels seem to go up a few notches at these games, everyone wants to be a part of the big events. We’re playing a strong France team who will give us a good test and the current best team in the world in a three-match series, the quality of Rugby League on show is going to be amazing.”

On the back of the sold out Super League Grand Final between Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford, ticket sales for the France game and New Zealand International Series are doing exceptionally well as fans look to attend the next major events in the sporting calendar and not miss the opportunity to see the best players in Rugby League.

Graham, capped 25 times for his country and has been part of the England and Great Britain camp for nine years now, has played in Grand Finals in England and Australia and some of the best stadiums in the world during tournaments.

“The four venues that have been picked for this series are perfect, me and the boys really enjoy playing at places like Leigh Sports Village because the fans love the game there, you can hear them all the time,” said the 30-year-old.

“I remember watching the Olympics in 2012 and seeing Mo Farah win gold. The fans in the stadium that day nearly screamed the place down! We’ll put in a good performance against the Kiwis when we go there to match Mo’s and Team GB so the crowd can do the same for us. English spectators make so much noise at games, it really gives us a boost.

“There’s massive appetite for the big games over here. I was at the Super League Grand Final the other week and I couldn’t believe the atmosphere and show that the sport put on, it was impressive. It’s not long to go now until it’s our turn to put on a show, I know plenty of fans will be there to pack out those stadiums and cheer us to a series win.”

England’s international schedule kicks off at Leigh on Saturday before the three-game series against New Zealand starts at the KC Stadium, Hull on Sunday November 1 (5.00pm).

Then it’s on to The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Saturday November 7 (2.30pm). The series concludes at the DW Stadium, Wigan on Saturday November 14 (1pm).

Tickets for England v France cost from as little as £10 for adults, £5 for concessions and £22.50 for a family ticket. Visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or call the Rugby League Ticket Hotline on 0844 856 1113.