Former St Helens and current St. George Illawarra Dragons prop James Graham ponders life after League.
The 33-year-old power forward spent nine seasons with boyhood club St Helens in Super League before departing for the NRL and Australia in 2012. There, he represented the Canterbury Bulldogs for six years, before moving to St.George Illawarra Dragons ahead of the 2018 season.
Between 2006 and 2011, Graham was part of a St Helens group which made a phenomenal six consecutive Grand Finals. Having tasted glory in 2006 though, Saints lost the next five on the bounce – four times to Leeds, once to Wigan.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Graham says.
“All the scars of losing those finals stay with you for a very, very long time.” he added
“Retirement is creeping up on me soon. I’m getting to the point where I won’t be able to compete and play anymore. I’m starting to look into certain avenues after this part of my life is over in terms of playing.”
This weekend, Graham will be on Sky Sports duty alongside the usual team of Brian Carney, Barrie McDermott, Terry O’Connor, Phil Clarke, Jon Wells and Eddie Hemmings who will be calling his 21st Grand Final from 21 starts.
“I am looking forward to it. I’ve done a little bit of stuff in Australia but this will be the first time over here, so it should be good,”
Graham envisions a more hands-on role within the sport in the future beyond his playing days though.
“The coaching avenue is something that really appeals to me. Rugby league has given me everything, so to stay within the game is the logical choice.”
“Hopefully I can look at doing something along that pathway.” Graham added.