Dad's the word for relieved Graham
If you thought Wade Graham was relieved to earn a State of Origin reprieve for Origin III on Wednesday week, then you can imagine what his parents would've been feeling.
It's been well-documented that Graham's Origin debut was taken away from him after he was suspended for a high shot on Johnathan Thurston, yet the Sharks back-rower admitted it may have been tougher for his father Mark.
The Sharks vice-captain discovered his Origin III fate on Sunday night and while telling his parents of his selection could tell it hit his dad emotionally the most.
Graham's debut comes a fortnight after New South Wales coach Laurie Daley said he may never get another chance to play for the Blues again, with the 25-year-old now set to link up with Josh Jackson and Tyson Frizell in the back row.
"My family ride the same emotions and at times they go through it more than you because they can't control anything. They're only looking in and through that period they wanted to help but what could be done? You can't do anything," Graham said.
"So the excitement and how happy they were that I have earned another opportunity, you could tell how much it meant to them.
"You could hear the emotion in my dad when I was talking to him though. Just with how proud and happy he was for me.
"They know how much it meant to me after they saw what I went through and how much it hurt me after I was suspended. So they're super proud and I'm grateful I can get them all here in Sydney for my first game."
The Blacktown City junior and his dad were always the minority of the household growing up as the only men of the house with Graham's three sisters dictating the show.
"In a house full of girls, my old man and I would knock around a fair bit as I was growing up. Just me and him," Graham said.
"But he's always let me walk my own path too. As footy became more competitive he took a step back. He just wants to see me happy.
"That's my parents, he just wants to see us kids happy. It wouldn't matter to him if I didn't play footy again, as long as I was happy. Same goes for my mum."
Graham's debut ends a tumultuous period nonetheless, but believes a four day window away from rugby league helped him re-establish a positive state of mind.
The horrid memories of his prolonged Origin debut will always remain though, with him detailing the toughest moments in the aftermath of his suspension.
"Heading to Brisbane for the game to watch and knowing I couldn't do anything. I watched on in the sheds as the boys warmed up and then ran out on to the field so that was the hardest thing for me," Graham said.
"It took its toll too even when I came back to the Sharks. I wasn't at my best against the Warriors (in Round 16) because of the toll it took on me emotionally. But it was just something I had to face and get on with really.
"Getting away from football and from training and not just having to deal with it for a few days was really good for me. I really needed it because that whole period was flat stick, non-stop.
"But now I'm back. For good."