JAMES Graham is hoping to take his final curtain call after 11 memorable years at St Helens on the perfect stage – the Theatre of Dreams.
Joint skipper Graham, who has signed a three-year deal with NRL club Canterbury Bulldogs, is just 80 minutes away from his sixth appearance in the Grand Final, and desperate to end the heart-break on finishing a loser on his last four visits to Old Trafford.
But Graham, who joined Saints as a junior at the beginning of the new millennium, is not counting his chickens before they are hatched, and knows they will need to produce a near perfect performance when facing deadly rivals Wigan Warriors in Saturday night’s qualifying semi-final at the Stobart Stadium to claim a date with destiny against either Warrington Wolves or Leeds Rhinos.
“Being realistic the game against Wigan could be my last as a Saints’ players, but I’m hoping it will extend to two, giving me the chance to end my time here with victory in the final,” said the 26-year-old international prop forward.
Graham added: “We got the monkey off our back, so to speak, when we defeated them a couple of weeks ago in the first round of the play-offs at the DW Stadium, but we knew then that they would probably cross our path again.
“Wigan are a quality side and while it was great to turn them over in their own back yard, we will need to improve on that performance this weekend if we wish to progress to the final.
“At the same time that victory is now forgotten and consigned to the history books. “All that matter as far as we are concerned is getting the right result on Saturday.”
Saints were victims of a number of high shots when the two sides last crossed swords, but Graham insists that Wigan are no more physical in their approach to the game than any other of the top sides.
He said: “Rugby League is a physical sport in which you are bound to get knocked about, but as long as opponents play within the rules and officials clampdown on anything untoward, then I will be more than happy.”