England’s final Test against New Zealand coincides with the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day: The day the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War.
England are therefore paying tribute to all of the country’s fallen heroes that have paid the ultimate price in conflicts around the world by wearing a poppy-themed jersey for their third Test (pictured above).
The team also visited the Menin Gate in the Belgian town of Ypres and spent time in the many War cemeteries to be found in Belgium.
“It was a very emotional occasion,” said James Graham, speaking of the effect the visit had on him and his teammates.
“There wasn’t much said between the group, which is quite rare. It’s normally a bubbly and excited group that likes to talk and have a laugh and a joke.
“When we were there, it hit you – something came over you, you tried to put yourself in the position of those men. They were men just like us. You are in disbelief that it happened only 100 years ago.”
Sixty-nine professional Rugby League players lost their lives in the First World War, fighting to protect their country, a fate that Graham can’t comprehend.
“To think that men were in our positions; they were playing for their club and wanted to win the league or win the Cup final or represent England or Great Britain but off to war they went and they didn’t come back.
“It’s hard to take yourself there but they were men just like us who paid the ultimate price.”
Elland Road will host one of the most poignant occasions in Test match history on Sunday, likely to be remembered for years to come whatever the outcome on the pitch.