Canterbury prop James Graham says he and Sam Burgess won’t be deliberately targeting one another in next Sunday’s NRL grand final.
James Graham has played down the so-called ‘battle of Britain’ between him and South Sydney’s Sam Burgess in next Sunday’s NRL grand final.
Graham, like Burgess 24 hours earlier, produced a blockbusting performance as Canterbury held out Penrith 18-12 in Saturday’s preliminary final.
The English prop filled the void left by the injured Michael Ennis magnificently as he got into the ear of Jamie Soward during several heated exchanges and also scored a try to open the scoring in the first half.
Burgess and Graham have been arguably the most impressive forwards in the NRL this year and the former St Helens man said he was disappointed when he learned his international team roommate was heading back home to play rugby.
However, he said it was wrong to suggest he’d look to target Burgess more than any other Souths forward next Sunday.
“I reckon honestly, there is not as much in it as people say,” Graham said.
“He plays in the middle, I play in the middle. It’s only because we tackle each other.
“I have to do my job for my team and stick to the game plan.”
Burgess negotiated his shock move to Bath rugby during the Rugby League World Cup in the UK last year but Graham said he knew nothing about his decision to try his hand at the 15-man game.
“He didn’t mention it to me, it wasn’t until I got back to Sydney that I first got wind of it,” he said.
“I was disappointed to be honest, really disappointed.
“As a code we need people like Sam. We need Sonny Bill Williams, Benji Marshall and want them to stay.
“This is not an attack on Sam or those guys, I love rugby league and I want to see the best athletes playing it.
“It happens in England too. There are a huge number of outside backs produced by rugby league and then snapped up by rugby union.”
Graham said he was also curious at the media interest in his country of birth and said it was something never discussed in the Bulldogs dressing room.
“It doesn’t matter where I am from, I am an Englishman, but I am a rugby league player,” he said.
“There are people in our team from all walks of life like Tonga, New Zealand, Queensland, NSW, city, country.
“I am just from a different part of the world geographically, but people want to talk about it all the time.
“But the NRL at home is held in such high regard and I would look at (Greg) Inglis and (Jarryd) Hayne on the highlights packages and think `how can I go over there and play?’.
“It’s pleasing to see English lads come here and hold their own.”