6th June 2020, 11:11 | englandrl

Graham focused on the present while Bateman suffers setback

Graham focused on the present while Bateman suffers setback

By NRL.com's Brad Walter

England prop James Graham insists he is not thinking about his playing future as his St George Illawarra Dragons focus on notching their first win of the season against the Bulldogs in the round four clash at Bankwest Stadium on Monday.

Graham, along with many of his St George Illawarra team-mates and coach Paul McGregor, has been under intense scrutiny in the wake of the team’s 18-0 loss to the New Zealand Warriors when the NRL season resumed last weekend.

However, the 34-year-old said the Dragons had been trying to block out the external noise as they prepare to take on a Canterbury outfit boosted by the return of Kiwis playmaker Keiran Foran from a shoulder injury sustained in last November’s Test against Great Britain in Auckland.

"I'm just going to try my best for my team this week,” Graham said. “I want to get the win for this team and that's where the focus is, not what people in the media say about me as an individual.

"The future will materialise but I'm not really thinking about my future I'm just thinking about doing my job for the Dragons this week."

St George have been linked with injured England and Canberra second-rower John Bateman, along with Justin Holbrook’s Gold Coast Titans and the Bulldogs, who have already signed St Helens prop Luke Thompson.

However, it is understood the Dragons are still deciding whether to table an offer as McGregor and recruitment director Ian Millward – the former Leigh, Saints, Wigan and Castleford coach – review their roster for next season.

The former Wigan man has undergone further surgery on the shoulder injury that has sidelined him all season, but insists he will return to help his current team in their bid to better last year’s grand final defeat to Sydney Roosters.

Bateman's Raiders – who of course also feature star England trio Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead and George Williams – take on the Newcastle Knights, who have been bolstered by the return of Kalyn Ponga and signing of Andrew McCullough.

Williams turned in his best performance since joining Canberra this season in last weekend’s 22-6 defeat of Melbourne and the former Wigan halfback’s running game appears suited to the new six-again rule introduced in the NRL.

The remaining matches see the Titans host Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday and the Dragons-Bulldogs clash on Monday, which is a public holiday in most of Australia for the birthday of Queen Elizabeth, who turned 94 in April.