Former St Helens prop James Graham pays tribute to retiring Sam Burgess

James Graham. Picture: SWPix
James Graham. Picture: SWPix

James Graham and the equally fearsome Sam Burgess have locked horns since their early Super League days at St Helens and Bradford Bulls respectively, as well as in the NRL and played along side each other at international level.

They have total admiration for each other's skill and ability and British Bulldog spirit - and that's why the former St Helens prop forward was one of the first players to come forward and make his views publicly known on the decision by the Yorkshireman to quit the game through a chronic shoulder injury.

Great Britain captain Graham labelled the 30-year-old South Sydney Rabbitohs forward as 'one of his country's greatest-ever players'.

The Liverpudlian, 33, said: ''From a personal point of view, and as a team-mate throughout his career, as well as being a friend, I am disappointed for him and the circumstances surrounding his retirement but is the consequences of the way he had gone about his business and played the sport. I genuinely hope that he is at peace with his position.

“From the game’s point of view, it’s obviously a huge loss for Great Britain and England and for our competition, the NRL

"The game is going to be poorer for him not being in there. He’s one of the competition’s biggest stars, there’s no doubt about I and he put bums on seats.

“He was phenomenal to play with, a true inspiration. He squeezed every ounce of talent out of this playing group every time and was someone you wanted to be alongside.but he still remains a lad from Yorkshire you can sit and have a beer or coffee with and chat about life

"It must be incredibly hard to hold on to that and not get caught up with the superstardom. Credit to him for still being that lad from Dewsbury.”