It’s over a decade now since James Graham followed Sam Burgess to the NRL as English players started to make a real dent in Australia’s premier competition.
At the time, Graham was rated as arguably the greatest prop in Super League, with Canterbury Bulldogs enticing him away from his boyhood club to test himself down under.
Reflecting on the transfer, current NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, who was the CEO at the Bulldogs when Graham made the move, relived just how it all came about in an interview with Graham.
“Going back to 2011 when you first came out here to consider if you would leave St Helens to play in the NRL, I remember you being young and pretty fresh,” said Greenberg.
“I remember you telling me you wanted to test yourself in the hardest rugby league competition in the world. All credit to you because you chose the right club and had great success, what a career you had.
“We had a good time, first year we were into a Grand Final. I reflect on a lot of those great memories at that club.
“It was a wonderful time with a lot of great people and ultimately my view has always been that great clubs are defined by the people in them.
“When you have the right people in the right roles with the correct attitude, you achieve great things and that’s what we achieved in that first year at the Bulldogs.”
As it turned out, Graham and the Bulldogs lost that 2012 Grand Final against Melbourne Storm, before losing the NRL’s showpiece event again in 2014, this time to a Sam Burgess-inspired South Sydney Rabbitohs.
‘Jammer’ would spend six very successful seasons at Canterbury, establishing himself as one of the best forwards in the game, and despite not winning a Premiership, it’s a move the former England captain is glad he made.
“I remember being immediately impressed by everyone at the Bulldogs during that 2011 visit,” Graham said in response to Greenberg.
He added: “It’s something I look back on and I know I made the right decision.”
Graham and Greenberg would spend only two seasons together at Belmore with ‘Jammer’ moving on to sign for St George Illawarra Dragons in 2018.
By this point Greenberg was now the NRL CEO having left his role at the Bulldogs in 2013, becoming the game’s main boss in 2016.