Bulldogs players back Graham as captain
James Graham will miss the next four matches following the club's controversial Good Friday clash against the Rabbitohs, but his teammates have rallied around their embattled skipper by labelling calls for him to be sacked from the club captaincy as ridiculous.
Graham was suspended for his dangerous contact on South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds – who is set to be sidelined for the long term with a knee injury – and for contrary conduct for his tirade directed at referee Gerard Sutton, and will join Brett Morris (hamstring), Tim Lafai (knee), David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano (both suspended) on the sideline.
Centre Josh Morris believes it's now just a matter of Graham learning from his mistakes in what is his first year of captaining the club.
"I think he's still learning as a captain and obviously on the weekend he let his emotions and competitiveness get the better of him" Morris said.
"But all of us have learnt from that this week and James has learned the hardest way by getting suspended for it.
"We don't want anyone else as captain – James is a great captain for the club. He leads with his actions and he'll be a great loss for us but we're 100 per cent still behind him."
Forward Josh Jackson added that calls to Bulldogs coach Des Hasler to relieve Graham of captaincy duties were "over the top".
"Obviously he's a passionate guy and he may have taken it a little bit overboard but it's his first year as captain here and I'm sure he'll learn from that in the future for sure," Jackson said.
"You don't like to see blokes get injured at all and James was the same – he was the first one to call over the trainers. I think a lot of people have missed that fact, that once he did do what he did, he was screaming for someone to tend to Adam Reynolds.
"That's why he's our captain. He leads by example and his actions. While it was a penalty at the end of the day, he was trying to charge a ball down to help us win the game so if continues making efforts like that we'll be following him."
While the Bulldogs were happy to show their support for Graham, the same cannot be said about the fans who threw projectiles at the match officials following the Bulldogs' 18-17 loss to the Rabbitohs.
Morris said it wasn't a good look for the club.
"We need to find who those people are and make sure they're dealt with accordingly. Ever since I've come to the club in 2009, the club has been working hard to rid of that image and they have done a lot of work in regards to that," Morris said.
"It only takes a minority to try and throw it back in the spotlight what was happening a decade ago and we certainly don't want to have a bad image.
"Bulldogs fans are very passionate as well but there is a minority – and they're at every club – who go out there to cause trouble."