Graham back in it after 23 day off-season
Wade Graham's NRL season officially ended on September 14. It has started again just 23 days later. It's not much of an off-season.
Graham's Sharks were eliminated in week one of the finals but the Cronulla star was back in the thick of rugby league once again when selected for Australia and jetting out for Fiji as captain of the Prime Minister's XIII.
Speaking with The Daily Telegraph, Graham also spoke about a summer to prepare for the full-time Cronulla captaincy with legendary Paul Gallen having now retired.
Graham and the PM's XIII were in Brisbane before leaving early today on a RAAF flight from Amberley to Nadi before a move to Suva for a game against Fiji on Friday.
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After a year hampered by injury, Graham is in the mix to represent the Kangaroos in end of season Tests against New Zealand on October 25 in Wollongong and Tonga at Eden Park, Auckland, on November 2.
"Twelve months ago I had just had my ACL done; a bit over a year to the day. I was just out of hospital so I am certainly proud to be back. Representing your country is the highest honour in the game," Graham said.
"It's been a really up and down season. I was out for nine months with the ACL. I missed the first 12 games and then tore my hammy tendon in game three of Origin and missed another four or five weeks, but I finished the season well.
"The biggest thing for me was that I finished the season healthy and got some games under my belt. So to be back in the rep arena, I'm very proud."
Graham's PM XIII trained on Monday in Brisbane and will complete promotional work while in Fiji.
"I have been lucky to be part of this side a couple of times over in PNG," Graham said. "This will be my first trip to Fiji.
"You can create a real impact with our players when we go over there, working with kids and spread messaging about domestic violence.
"I know we have a massive impact in PNG, they love their footy. I'm interested to see how we go in Fiji."
With Gallen now gone, Graham will now step up as the senior leader at a Cronulla club undergoing change.
"It's a big time of change at Cronulla, obviously with 'Galza' retiring. He has been such a central figure in the club so long," Graham said. "It is the end of an era.
"It's a big time of change. But I am 28 - 29 at the end of this month - so I have some of the best years on front of me, footy wise. So I will be doing my best with other senior players to trend in the right direction.
"To be fair, as the last couple of season have gone on, I probably have taken more responsibility as Galza withdrew from a lot of commitments. He has had a lot of things going on - his media, boxing commitments.
"That was half the reason I was made co-captain in the first place, to ease that pressure on Galza so he could spread his attention to what he had to do and I could manage the footy side of things.
"Losing him will mean another step up. He's someone I have lent on for the majority of my career so we will need someone to step up and fill that leadership void but I'm confident in our group that we'll be okay."