The inside story behind St Helens legend James Graham’s move to the NRL

James Graham is regarded as a legendary player both in Super League and the NRL.

The St Helens star won the treble in 2006 and five years later, after many more notable accolades including the 2008 Man of Steel, left for a challenge in the NRL.

He shone at Canterbury Bulldogs before joining St George Illawarra Dragons prior to returning to St Helens in 2020 and winning the Grand Final in his last ever game.

Speaking to player agent David Riolo on his podcast The Bye Round, the inside story of Graham’s move to the NRL was revealed by Riolo who arranged it.

“I was managing a couple of boys at your club and you had an agent and we went out socially after the Challenge Cup Final win,” Riolo said.

“I remember meeting you guys, you and Jon Wilkin because you’re good mates with Jason Hooper who I was representing.

“Your manager was finishing up as soon as I left I rang you and I said ‘hey can we meet up.’

“That was the wheels in motion.

“But you said ‘I want to go to the NRL, that’s my goal, I want to prove that I can mix it with the best in the NRL week in, week out.’

“It wasn’t about if you’d go, it was when.

“I knew from what I’d heard from Ian Millward and Jason Hooper who told me about your toughness and your leadership, so I never had a doubt.

“We had a fair bit of interest, I remember you came out and did a bit. The Bulldogs were just the most proactive, you were their man.

“Adam Blair was in the market and a few clubs had their toe in with Adam Blair but the Bulldogs just went ‘we’re going James Graham’ and they went all in.”

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