James Graham is one of England’s all time great players having racked up 237 appearances for St Helens and also transitioning to the NRL where he played almost 200 games.
That experience within the game is invaluable and his old side Canterbury Bulldogs are set to use that to create an elite culture among the club in a bid to boost the Bulldogs brand.
Graham has been brought on board in an official capacity alongside big hitting icon Willie Mason and Hull FC great Mark O’Meley, an unlikely trio but all players that represented the Blue and Whites.
The three former greats will have separate roles, with Graham set to be involved with the commercial side of the club alongside contributing towards the coaching and development of young players.
Representing the Bulldogs 135 times, ‘Jammer’ went to the Grand Final in his first season and was named in their own “Team of the Decade” in 2015 to celebrate 80 years as a club.
As mentioned, the acquasition of their former legends among the backroom staff, which also includes the recently retired Josh Jackson, has helped boost the Bulldogs brand with sponsorships up 60%, merchandise sales up 100% and memberships also up 70%.
“Outside of player development, we’re also taking great strides towards sustainable success for the Bulldogs Rugby League Club,” Chief Executive Aaron Warburton explained.
“For the 2023 season, our team are set to wear a powerful new design for our home and away jerseys – a design that will be launched in the coming days which is expected to break all records.
“We are fortunate to have a commercially strong draw for the upcoming season. We have 40 per cent more free-to-air viewership for 2023 for our at-home members and fans.
“Playing mostly Saturday and Sunday afternoons means more families will be able to come along and support their favourite player at convenient times.”
There’s a feel-good factor around the Bulldogs right now and head coach Cameron Ciraldo wants to bottle that and has enlisted the help of former a number of former Canterbury legends, as Warburton explained.
“Our club culture has been strengthened by the retention and return of Bulldogs greats like Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan, Mark O’Meley, Hazem El Masri, James Graham and, most recently, Josh Jackson.
“As a club, we are in a really positive and stable position leading in to 2023.”
Graham will work alongside those former players to help get the best out of the current crop of players with it being revealed a week ago that former captain Josh Jackson would return in official capacity to facilitate the new coaching arrival.
The likes of Graham, Mason and O’Meley will help do the same as well having taken up official positions with the Dogs.