JAMES GRAHAM admits he would have loved to have seen England rugby union’s side win the World Cup – to allow both codes to flourish.
The Canterbury Bulldogs prop became his country’s most capped international in last week’s 26-12 victory over New Zealand, taking him to 27 and eclipsing Kevin Sinfield’s previous best.
Graham, 30, will extend that record today when he forms part of the England side looking to seal the series against the Kiwis in the first-ever game of rugby league at London’s Olympic Stadium.
After the union side nosedived spectacularly at their own tournament last month, held predominantly in the capital, the 13-man code has a chance to revive patriotic feelings in an area that is normally union-obsessed.
“It’s a massive opportunity and a springboard,” said Graham.
“The viewing figures for the (first) game at Hull were high, the crowd was full and there’s a lot of tickets been sold to people in the London area for Saturday so there may be a few people new to the game.
“But I’d have loved the rugby union team to win the World Cup and us go on the back of that.
“It’s not one or the other for me but we can really push the game and show what rugby league is about.”
Along with captain Sean O’Loughlin, Graham is just one of two surviours from the squad that whitewashed the Kiwis in 2007, although his former St Helens team-mate Paul Wellens is also now on the England coaching staff.
He recalled: “2007 is a long time ago. I was 22 and my squad situation was different.
“I remember feeling very proud to have won that Test series and still have the jersey on the wall of my house framed.
“I got it signed it’s still there. It was a massive achievement to be part of a GB team winning a Test series, it was huge.
“I was very optimistic about the future of English rugby league then and that hasn’t changed. The belief is there that the group can do something (in a Four Nations or World Cup) very soon.”
Asked if he had watched much of London 2012, Graham said: “I watched a bit but it was on at a poor time for me; it was my first year in Australia so I can’t imagine (Canterbury coach) Des Hasler would’ve been happy I was up all night cheering on Great Britain’s Olympic squad! I know the buzz was pretty special though.”
Meanwhile, Pita Godinet, the Samoa hooker, and Chris Riley, the former Warrington Wolves winger, both announced yesterday that they are moving on from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats with nothing yet confirmed on where they will be heading next.