'I hope he plays': Graham empathises with Wallace
If there is anyone who knows what Maroons hopeful Jarrod Wallace is going through this week, it's Blues back-rower Wade Graham.
Wallace has been named to make his Origin debut in next Wednesday's crunch Origin II in Sydney but first has to get past the NRL judiciary, who will tonight hear his defence in response to a Grade 1 shoulder charge citation that could put him out for two games including Origin.
Graham was denied a long-awaited Origin debut in Game II last year for a Grade 1 careless high tackle on Johnathan Thurston, picked up in Cronulla's final game before players went into camp for Game Two, with loading and carry-over points proving the difference.
Graham fortunately was handed a debut the following game by coach Laurie Daley and has made every post a winner since, winning his two Origins to date. Speaking to media as Blues players head into camp for Game Two, Graham said he hopes to see Wallace out there next Wednesday.
"I really feel for him – I wouldn't wish it on anyone," Graham said.
"A lot of hard work has gone into this lifelong dream of his and to finally realise it and potentially have it taken away from you is tough. I struggled with it last year.
"Emotionally it was tough on me more than anything. I felt it for a few weeks."
Graham said he hopes Wallace receives a favourable outcome when his defence argues his bump on Warrior Blake Ayshford was unavoidable.
"Games like this, potentially you might only get one opportunity," Graham said.
"You don't want to see a player miss any game like that. Talking from experience I really do feel for him and I hope he gets through it."
While the experience was traumatic for Graham at the time, he is grateful to have come out the other side.
"It was another bit of adversity, people have adversity throughout their career, this was something I had to deal with," he said.
"It's a part of my story now, it's a part of my career and luckily I have come through the other side of it. I got an opportunity in Game Three last year and at the start of this series but it was a tough week for me."