James Graham: Decorated St Helens prop to retire after the 2020 season

James Graham
James Graham has been one of the most fearsome prop forwards over the past 17 years

St Helens prop James Graham will end his playing career at the end of the 2020 Super League season, 17 years after his first grade debut.

Graham, 34, was already retired from internationals, having played 53 games for England and Great Britain combined.

He has made 225 Saints appearances across two spells, scoring 53 tries, to add to 10 in 186 in the elite Australian National Rugby League.

"I am gutted this season will be my final one," Graham said.

"Finishing my career at my boyhood club was an opportunity that I couldn't resist.

"I have had so many fantastic memories throughout my career here at Saints, in the NRL and on the international stage representing my country. It has all been a huge honour."

Graham became one of the world's best in his position as part of a legendary Saints team during the mid-to-late 2000s, winning every domestic trophy while establishing himself an international regular.

He further cemented that reputation during his time in Australia, initially with Canterbury Bulldogs who he helped to two Grand Finals and where won the Dally M Prop of the Year award.

Graham then went on to star for St George Illawarra Dragons, for whom he wore the captain's armband.

What made Graham different to other popular modern-era English packmen, like Adrian Morley or Sam Burgess, was the ball-playing side of his game - seen as a throwback to the old-fashioned British forwards such as Malcolm Reilly, Phil Lowe and Brian Lockwood from the 1970s.

While in the NRL, he was made England captain for the 2-1 series win against New Zealand in 2018 - with the winning Test in his home city of Liverpool.

His return to reigning champions Saints in June coincided with their attempt to win back-to-back titles.

A repeat this term would see Graham end his career with his first title since 2006 - having tasted defeat in five Grand Finals in a row between 2007 and 2011.

"The season has not finished yet and my intention now is completing the job I came here to do with St Helens," Graham added.

"We are going to take things a game at a time, moment by moment and give ourselves the best possible opportunity to finish the job."

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