Graham eager to play with Burgess once again

James Graham has insisted he’s happy to step aside as stand-in captain and let Sam Burgess take over: adding that he can’t wait to link up with the Souths forward in an England shirt once again this weekend.

Graham captained the side in Avignon over the weekend while Burgess served a one-match suspension, but the forward returns to the squad for Saturday’s game against New Zealand, and will reclaim the armband from Graham.

But the Canterbury forward insists he isn’t too bothered about that – saying that it’s just great to have Burgess back.

“I’m happy to let Sam take over,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to lining up with him again and stand alongside him, I want to follow his lead because he’s an outstanding player – and I’m happy he’s not running against me like he does with Souths!

“It’s great to see him back. He wanted to try something new but he’s back where he belongs and I can’t wait to take the field with him.

“He’s one of the best forwards in the world and has been for a long time, so to have him with us helping us try to achieve our goals is massive.”

Graham also said he’s been impressed with new coach Wayne Bennett, having seen his work first-hand in the NRL in the past.

“He’s really impressed me and everyone I’ve spoken to. He keeps things simple and he instils a lot of confidence and belief into his players.”

The Kiwis arrive in Huddersfield on Saturday for the Four Nations opener with a different side to the one that lost the Test series to England last year – and Graham admits he’s not sure whether that 2-1 victory will count for too much.

“It’s a tough one,” he said. “Jason Taumololo has had an outstanding year and obviously he’ll help their cause, but they’ve got a few missing that were here last year.

“Roger Tuivasa-Sheck isn’t here this year for example, but they’ve got plenty of strength in depth and we’ll take plenty of confidence from that series win last year. However, I’m not sure what that counts for a year on, in a different tournament.”