England World Cup prop James Graham is enjoying his rugby Down Under so much that he may eventually call Australia home – forever.
He made the prediction on the eve of his Man of the Match performance that helped inspire the Canterbury Bulldogs to a ‘golden point’ victory over Manly on Saturday and a place in the penultimate week of the NRL Premiership play-offs.
Graham told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that after three years with Bulldogs he can see himself settling down permanently and embarking on a coaching career.
“There is potential,” he said.
“Part of this deal is permanent residency as well… so… oh, God, I guess maybe Australia could be home.
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“Maybe after football. I don’t really like to plan things too far.”
Graham is playing the best rugby of his career and most critics now regard him as the best frontrower in the game.
He was a stand-out in the 18-17 victory over the Sea Eagles on Saturday night, making 20 bursts that netted 150 metres and hitting Manly players with 32 bone-crushing tackles.
Graham helped set up two of the Bulldogs’ first three tries that saw them establish a 16-0 lead.
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And he was held up over the tryline himself just before half-time. Had he managed to force the ball, Canterbury could well have been ahead 22-nil.
He is also consistent – averaging 125 metres and 35 tackles per game.
As television legend Ray Warren noted: “I’d hate to be in front of him if he was a magistrate.”
Keen followers of the sport are already predicting he will take over the Canterbury captaincy next year, especially as he was seen laying down the law in the dressing room before Saturday’s encounter.
The Roosters will play South Sydney in the first NRL preliminary final on Friday night, after the former scored a spine-tingling 31-30 victory over North Queensland on Friday.
Canterbury will play Penrith Panthers in the second preliminary final on Saturday, with the two winners progressing to the Grand Final.