30th October 2019, 17:31 | englandrl

James Graham pays tribute to Sam Burgess

James Graham pays tribute to Sam Burgess

James Graham has paid tribute to Sam Burgess after his retirement from the game was announced today.

Burgess' career has come to an end as a result of a chronic shoulder issue.

Graham was one of Burgess' fiercest opponents and remains a loyal friend of his and belives he is one of England's greatest ever players.

"I think from a personal point of view as a team-mate and a friend I'm disappointed for him and the circumstances," said Graham.

"But it's a consequence of the way he goes about his business and plays the game.

"He's one of the (NRL's) biggest stars, there's no doubt about it. He puts bums on seats, when you go to a Magic Weekend he’s one of the players you want to go and see. Unfortunately, he’s had to make the decision to retire early.

"I remember a time I hurt my knee against the Kiwis and he would say "come on, we need ya." Because his voice carries so much presence and weight he was able to drag me through it. He has that presence. He was phenomenal to play with, a true inspiration. He squeezed every ounce of talent out of this playing group every time he played for us. He was someone you wanted to be alongside.

"Playing against him, he was a nightmare. He never went away, played with pain. Without the ball you’re constantly looking where he might be because if he got you he didn't miss. One of England and Great Britain's greatest I would say. He's earned that right to be in that ilk.

"Just speaking about him before, obviously he has risen to superstardom - he is an international superstar. But he's still a lad from Yorkshire you can sit and have a beer or coffee with and chat about life with. 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."