28th October 2020, 13:33 | StHelens
James Graham will call time on his long and illustrious career at the end of the current Betfred Super League campaign, meaning 2020 will be his final season at St.Helens R.F.C.
The Club signed Graham on a one-year-deal back in June of this year and as the 2020 season reaches its conclusion, Graham has today announced it will be, as expected, his last.
Graham, 35, 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, before re-signing for Saints earlier this year.
Graham also called time on his International career last month having played 53 times for England and Great Britain in a peerless career.
On his career retirement, Graham said: “Playing for St Helens and over in the NRL has been an absolute honour. I am gutted this season will be my final one as a player, but I came to Saints saying I would have one last all in push for this season and nothing has changed there.
“Finishing my career at my boyhood Club was an opportunity that I couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, I am gutted we have not been able to play in front of our fans as I know they feel every pass, every tackle and every run. I have even missed the opposition fans who would give me a piece of their mind!
“I have had so many fantastic memories throughout my career here at Saints, in the NRL and on the International stage representing my country. It has all been a huge honour. I would like to thank all my family and friends who have supported me throughout my career and all the people involved from community clubs Thatto Heath and Blackbrook to people in the St Helens Academy as well as everybody involved at Canterbury Bulldogs and St George Illawarra Dragons.
“Now that all has been said, the season has not finished yet and my intention now is completing the job I came here to do with St Helens. We are going to take things a game at a time, moment by moment and give ourselves the best possible opportunity to finish the job.”
Head Coach Kristian Woolf said: “James has had an outstanding career and he has achieved a hell of a lot of accolades which he deserves through the hard work he puts in. Since day one of coming into our group he has been a huge influence on all the players, in particularly the young ones. The way he trains, prepares and plays and his intensity means there is no better example for our young blokes.
“Personally he has been great to work with too. He is such a good bloke and professional and we can’t wait to continue having James as part of our side for the rest of the year and we will make every effort to make sure he finishes the season as successful as he can.”
Chairman Eamonn McManus said: “James Graham has been one of the greatest players ever produced by and played for St Helens.
“Throughout his long and distinguished career both with us, in the NRL and representing his country, he has given everything in every minute, in every game. A heart as big as a lion and loyal to St Helens to the very end, he readily enters the pantheon of all time great rugby league props and we are lucky to be associated with him.
“It is fitting that he has returned to his boyhood club to play out his last games and to be recognised always as a true Saints legend.
“Although it’s tragic that the fans cannot show their appreciation to him in our stadium, he can rest easy that they’ll be behind his every play for the rest of this season and that he will always have a very special place in their hearts.
“Good luck Jammer in all that you do and wherever you do it, and thank you for the inspired and inspiring memories.”
Graham will hope to top off his wonderful career in his final season in the Red V with silverware as St Helens look to retain our Betfred Super League crown.
James Graham's career statistics
Club – [as of 28.10.20]