IN openly discussing the possibility he will be jettisoned by the Canterbury Bulldogs, England warhorse James Graham has made it clear he does not share Leon Pryce’s view of Blackpool and Bondi beaches.
Graham is being linked with Nathan Brown’s Newcastle Knights despite being under contract at Belmore next year and told the Sydney Sunday Telegraph that whatever happened, his preference was to stay in Australia.
“Australia is OK don’t you think?” Graham said “It is not a bad country. I mean compare Bondi Beach to Blackpool Beach.”
In 2006 during the Tri-Nations down under, Pryce infuriated Aussie commentators by saying: “I'd rather be on Blackpool beach than Bondi beach. They can keep the country to themselves."
Graham has clearly enjoyed his Antipodean experiences more. “I want to keep on playing rugby league and I want to do it here,” he said.
“I get that I may have to move on and I am OK with that. I am no snowflake and I won’t melt if I am told I have to leave.’
“The club has to safeguard its future and if they are going after some of the best players in the game that play my position then so be it. I am 31 now. The club has to look to their future and I am not naive enough to think they aren’t doing it.
“I have to applaud the club for going after the best players in the game.’’
DAN SARGINSON: Back for Gold Coast, impressive 129 metres in the 24-22 defeat to Brisbane
GEORGE BURGESS: Came under scrutiny for a possible elbow but escaped charge; 129 metres off the bench
Graham’s dogs kicked off the Easter programme in Australia with a convincing 24-9 win over the Burgess brothers’ South Sydney. Bunnies captain Sam Burgess was charged with a shoulder charge in that game but will challenge the allegation, risking a two week ban.
A heavily-strapped Joe Wardell did his best for Newcastle as they fought hard before losing 24-6 to Sydney Roosters a couple of hours later at McDonald Jones Stadium.
GARETH WIDDOP: One line break, two try assists & a try in another five-star display
TOM BURGESS: Made 26 tackles but missed six in a 41-minute stint
Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson were in the thick of the action as the Canberra Raiders outclasses the New Zealand Warriors 20-8 at GIO Stadium on Saturday evening.
Coach Ricky Stuart only used two reserves.
SAM BURGESS: 136 metres and 40 tackles in a 68 minute stint
ELLIOTT WHITEHEAD: 122 metres and 32 tackles, played the full game as usual
Looking ahead to England’s May 6 Test against Samoa, Hodgson said: “It’ll be a tough game for us and I think it’s good as country to get more and more games together.
“The more we can play, the better we’ll be as a team. Samoa have got a great side and to come over here and play a Test mid-season is definitely in the right direction of what we want to do in future.”
Gareth Widdop is among the front runners for the Dally M medal after he starred in the final game on Saturday night, a 28-22 victory against fast-finishing North Queensland at WIN Stadium.
“It’s great how we got the two points – but there were plenty of lessons,” said Widdop.
JAMES GRAHAM: 157 metres and 44 tackles in 71 minutes
JOSH HODGSON: One line break and 45 tackles over 80 minutes
England take on Samoa on May 6 at the Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney and fans can watch the game via an exclusive live stream for the early bird price of just £3.49 - sign up here.