30th June 2020, 16:48 | StHelens
St.Helens have officially confirmed that England's James Graham has returned to Saints with immediate effect after signing a short-term deal until the end of the 2020 season.
Graham, 34, joined the Saints Academy at the age of 11 and progressed through the ranks, making 225 appearances and scoring 53 tries.
He made his debut against Castleford Tigers in August 2003 and went on to be part of the 2006 grand slam winning team.
In 2008, Graham was named Man of Steel, was the only Brit in the World team XIII and was named best prop in the world.
In total, Graham collected a Super League Grand Final ring, three Challenge Cup winners medals and captained the Red Vee in 2011 before moving to the Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL.
In the NRL, Graham was named Dally M Prop of the Year in 2014 before moving to St George Illawarra in 2018. In total he has made 186 appearances in the NRL scoring 10 tries.
Graham has also been a key figure on the International stage, playing 50 times for England and Great Britain in a peerless career.
On re-joining Saints, Graham told saintsrlfc.com: “I am delighted to be returning home.
“St.Helens has been a huge part of my life since I was a young boy. An opportunity to re-join the club I have watched from the stands is something I feel genuine excitement about.
“I want to thank the Dragons and everyone in the NRL for everything they have done for me and making this all possible. A massive thank you to Eamonn McManus, Mike Rush and Kristian Woolf for their help in making this move happen.
“I still believe I have a lot to offer on the field and I am excited about the rest of the season with St.Helens.
“I can promise the fans that I will give everything for the badge to help bring us the opportunity of success.”
St Helens Chairman Eamonn McManus said: “I told James when he left us in 2011 that we wished him nothing but success in his career and in his life and that there would always be a red carpet waiting for him if ever he returned to St Helens. I never for one moment expected to roll it out, but it will be an absolute pleasure to do so.
“James won a Grand Final with St Helens in 2006. A second has very painfully evaded him since then. It would indeed be a fitting ending for one of the greatest players in the history of our club if he manages to sign off the final season with another Champions ring.
“Everyone at the Club, particularly the players, have been uplifted by this news during an otherwise difficult period. We know he’ll again give everything to the boyhood club which he served with such distinction in the past. We are all now looking forward to the season reopening with even more anticipation and excitement.”
St Helens Head Coach Kristian Woolf added: “I followed James’ career in the NRL closely as well as on the International stage. Given his profile and what he has achieved in the game, as an opposition coach, he is a player you make notes on and try and stop.
“His work rate and aggression is something I really like as well as his presence on the field. His experience is second to none and his leadership is something which will benefit, not just our younger blokes, but the whole group.
“He has real character and there are not many players who have played over 400 grade one games. What I have liked is his enthusiasm and desire to come back here and to be a part of our group.
“I am looking forward to working with him once our season resumes and seeing the positive influence he is sure to have.”
Graham will join up with his teammates once formal training resumes ahead of the resumption of the 2020 season.