James Graham going back to his roots to receive special international honour

Former St Helens star James Graham will officially join an exclusive group of players before World Cup Group D rivals Tonga and Papua New Guinea clash in the town tomorrow (Tuesday, October 18).

The 37-year-old forward, who started and ended his senior career at Saints, either side of stints at Canterbury Bulldogs and St George Illawarra Dragons, will receive a golden cap, awarded to those who have played in 50 or more Test matches.

Graham featured in 44 for England between 2008 and 2018, including the 2017 World Cup final which Australia won 6-0, and nine for Great Britain between 2006 and 2019.

And when informed by International Rugby League that he would be receiving the honour, he asked for the presentation to take place at Thatto Heath, where he played as a junior, and for the cap to be displayed at the club.

That was way back in early 2020, after the Liverpudlian had completed his half-century of international appearances on Great Britain’s Pacific tour the previous Autumn – and before he made his fairy-tale farewell appearance for Saints in the dramatic 2020 Super League Grand Final win over arch-rivals Wigan.

Then Covid intervened, forcing the cancellation of the Ashes series scheduled for the autumn of 2020 and the twelve-month postponement of the World Cup, originally scheduled for 2021.

Now Graham is back in England, working for the BBC and other media outlets as part of their World Cup coverage, and will be at Thatto Heath at 5.00pm, before attending the Tonga-PNG tie at the Totally Wicked Stadium (7.30pm).

His tally of 53 caps leaves him level with Adrian Morley, the last British player to be presented with a golden cap in 2018.

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