Despite being England’s most capped player in the forthcoming World Cup, former Saints’ prop James Graham didn’t take his selection for granted.
“I am very passionate about playing for my country and it is a jersey I want to hold on to so I guess I have got to try to cement my spot in the squad,” Graham said on the eve of head coach Wayne Bennett revealing his 24-man squad.
He added at the time:’’There is a lot of competition for spots in those middle forwards so I have got to keep a standard of playing that Wayne and the rest of the staff think is deserving of that England jersey.”
But the Maghull-born powerhouse forward needn’t have worried about adding to his cap count in what will be his third World Cup and will be firing on all cylinders to bring back the most coveted RL trophy in the sport.
Graham 32, is also in one of the best positions to analysis key opposition, having played against many since moving Down Under in 2012, and his input in team talks could well be highly beneficial to the rest of the squad
Few so-called experts are looking no further than holders Australia to retain the trophy but English fans, who will be travelling Down Under for the tournament and those glued to their TV sets in this country, will be desperate to see the world crown return to these shores since 1972 and won under the Great Britain banner.
Graham said ‘’Fans are very passionate when it comes to club rugby but when you join forces as a national team you have a big influence on a hell of a lot of people in terms of how they view rugby league,”
“There are a lot of very passionate fans back home and I guess moving away from England has made me realise that.
“With the World Cup in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, I know that there will be plenty of fans on what is literally the trip of a life time to watch their national side play in a World Cup tournament so it would great if we can give them something to smile about.’’
He will also be looking forward to linking up with his team-mates, who left Manchester for Australia today (Thursday), especially James Roby - his old pal from their days as amateurs at Blackbrook.