James Graham: England & Great Britain prop finishes international career

St Helens prop forward James Graham has confirmed his international retirement and will not be part of England’s World Cup campaign in 2021.

Graham, 35, has a combined 53 caps for Great Britain and England, passing 50 games on last autumn’s Lions tour.

He played in the 2017 World Cup final defeat by Australia and skippered England to a Test series win over New Zealand in 2018.

“I will always be a passionate supporter of England,” Graham said.

Although he has decided to call time on his representative career, Graham is yet to confirm whether he will play on beyond this season at club level, having rejoined Saints mid-season from St George Illawarra.

The former Canterbury Bulldogs front-rower has been one of the most influential players in his position since making his club debut in 2003.

He played 186 games in the elite NRL, winning prop of the year in 2014, and internationally was a key figure in the chevron of GB or the white shirt of England.

His final internationals for England, after this autumn’s tour by Australia was cancelled, came in the series against New Zealand in which he was captain and lifted the Albert Baskerville Shield.

“Without doubt the highlight is the series-clinching victory over the Kiwis at Anfield two years ago. I can’t speak highly enough of that group of men,” he said.

“After the World Cup in 2017 we had become so close, but we needed to cap it off with some silverware. We managed to do it in one of the best games of rugby league played in this country in my opinion.

“On a personal level with the emotions of playing in my home city and having friends and family in the stadium to watch, that game will always be so special to me.”

Graham’s decision to retire is a blow to England coach Shaun Wane, who has always been an admirer of the forward from the opposition bench.

“While I totally understand James’ reason for retiring from international rugby, I am personally disappointed I will never get the chance to coach him,” Wane said.

“His record says everything about him – a true English great. I have watched every Test match he’s played in, and always admired his competitive spirit and win at all costs attitude. I wish him well.”

The men’s, women’s and wheelchair Rugby League World Cup will take place in England between 23 October and 27 November 2021.

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