Rugby league legend James Graham admits he still can’t believe the circumstances in which he finished his career a week on from St Helens’ miraculous Super League grand final victory.
Graham farewelled rugby league after St Helens defeated Wigan in a thrilling match last week that saw Jack Welsby score a last-second try off a deflected field goal.
For 35-year-old Graham it was the perfect end to a storied career that started all the way back in 2003 for St. Helens.
Overall, he amassed 474 matches of rugby league across his time at St. Helens, Canterbury, St. George and playing for Great Britain and England.
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But he admits not one of those matches comes close to rivalling St. Helens’ 2020 title win for the best moment of his career.
Speaking with Andrew Voss on SEN, Graham reflected on the memorable final match of his illustrious career.
“It still doesn’t feel real,” Graham said.
“I’ve been smiling all week, I’ve seen the game back in highlight form, still getting nervous about the end result and then it happens again.
“I’ve been involved in some close games and some good comebacks but nothing quite like that.
“Everything involved in the game, obviously you’re playing for the title, the year that it’s been, all these little side stories.
“Wigan having an opportunity to win the game in the last minute, unfortunately for them they missed the conversion.
“The range of emotions in that last minute or so. You think the drop goal is going over and then it hits the post, you’ve got that range of emotions again.
“And then it’s, what’s Jack Welsby doing there chasing the drop goal down?
“Is he onside? It looks like he’s scored? Nothing quite like that mate.
“It was one of them if someone wrote it in a story book, it would be going in the fiction aisle and you’d barely believe it.
“But sport has that great power and I’m still pinching myself in realising it’s true.”
422 top grade games.
— Roast (@thenrlroast) November 27, 2020
There were incredible scenes post-match with Graham in tears on the sidelines.
He was clearly emotional not only due to the result but because of the realisation that his final moment on the footy field would be winning another title.
He told Vossy that he had an extreme rollercoaster of emotions waiting for the try to be awarded and at one stage thought it would be given no try.
“When it went to the video ref, I was looking like I was going to explode but you have to keep it all in,” Graham said.
“I was just trying to bottle it all up. I was on the sideline, I was anticipating that it was going to be a try, and when it went up to the video ref I heard the Wigan bench