James Graham hits out at Piers Morgan

Sometimes we controversy in the history of rugby league such as the infamous way Leeds Rhinos beat Bradford Bulls in 2007, the suspension and then appeal of Morgan Knowles last year and Wigan Warriors survival in 2006.

However, I would argue that sport and controversy go hand in hand.

Something that isn’t common place in rugby league is elaborate celebrations.

Though we rarely see elaborate celebrations in rugby league that wasn’t the case in the NRL last weekend after a Canberra Raiders try.

You will no doubt have heard about Johnny Bairstow’s dismissal in the Ashes against Australia in the cricket lately.

Barstow believed the over had ended, left his crease to change ends and was stumped out much to the outrage of the whole British sporting community especially as Australia went on to win.

After the Canberra Raiders scored they re-enacted the now infamous moment with England international Elliot Whitehead playing the role of Barstow.

You can watch the clip below:

Now though Piers Morgan has raged about the incident on Twitter:

“Just found out the batsman in this shameful spirit-of-the-game mocking stunt is not only ENGLISH, but a YORKSHIREMAN. What on earth are you doing Elliott Whitehead? Are you a closet Australian?”

As we all know Whitehead is a proud Englishman.

He has been a mainstay in the England side for years and scored in the Rugby League World Cup semi-final against Samoa.

Whitehead responded to the complaints from Morgan saying on Instagram:

“Bit of fun and all for a good cause. Hope I ain’t upset my fellow English.”

He would later say on the Canberra Raiders Twitter page: “I think Piers is into me a bit but I am a proud Englishman and it is for a good cause and a bit of fun. Hopefully people find it funny.”

This good cause is because in the NRL this month for every elaborate celebration money will be given to charity.

Now his former teammate James Graham has hit out at Morgan backing up Whitehead on the RFL’s website.

He said:

“He’s had a huge career over here,” said Graham, who was four years into his stint with Canterbury Bulldogs when Whitehead arrived.

“He probably came as a bit of an unknown. But straight away his impact was phenomenal. He’s been a huge reason why the Raiders have come so close a couple of times, and it looks like they’re firing up again this year as well.

“He’s Mr Consistent, in all areas of the game. You don’t get bad games with him, and he’s never a drain on resources. That’s one of the reasons his coaches and team-mates all love him. As a coach you know what you’re going to get from him – he doesn’t let people down. His work-rate is phenomenal.

“I can tell Piers Morgan and anyone else that he’s an absolute top bloke as well, from my experiences of being in England and GB camps with him – I gravitated to him straight away. He’s up front, no ego, and funny.

“It speaks volumes about the type of player and bloke he is that he’s been appointed captain by the Raiders – and that he’ll still be doing interviews with supporters and players in the sheds.

“And as for the stuff that Piers Morgan wrote – I can tell you he’s as proud an Englishman, and Yorkshireman, as you will come across. You only have to see the way he has played in the England shirt to see that.”