James Graham has paid a glowing tribute to Sam Burgess following his retirement from the game.
Burgess has been forced to retire due to a chronic shoulder injury, bringing a close to one of the great careers of recent years.
Graham, a fierce opponent and loyal team-mate of Burgess throughout his career, spoke highly of the 30-year-old, putting him alongside some of the country’s greatest ever players.
“I think from a personal point of view as a team-mate and a friend I’m disappointed for him and the circumstances,” said Graham.
“But it’s a consequence of the way he goes about his business and plays the game. I genuinely hope that he’s at peace with his position.
“From the game’s point of view, it’s obviously for Great Britain and England a huge loss, for our competition, the NRL, the game is going to be poorer for him not being in there. He’s one of the competition’s biggest stars, there’s no doubt about it. He puts bums on seats, when you go to a Magic Weekend he’s one of the players you want to go and see. Unfortunately, he’s had to make the decision to retire early.
“I remember times playing against the Kiwis and he would say “come on, we need ya.” Because his voice carries so much presence and weight he was able to drag me through it. He has that presence. He was phenomenal to play with, a true inspiration. He squeezed every ounce of talent out of this playing group every time he played for us. He was someone you wanted to be alongside.
“Playing against him, he was a nightmare. He never went away, played with pain. Without the ball you’re constantly looking where he might be because if he got you he didn’t miss. One of England and Great Britain’s greatest I would say. He’s earned that right to be in that ilk. One of the NRL’s greatest players of a generation.
“Just speaking about him before, obviously he has risen to superstardom. He has, he is an international superstar. But he’s still a lad from Yorkshire you can sit and have a beer or coffee with and chat about life with. It must be incredibly hard to hold on to that and not get caught up with the superstardom. Credit to him for still being that lad from Dewsbury.”