England prop James Graham has defended himself after a verbal attack on an Australian player was picked up on the broadcast microphones in the World Cup final.
After a push-and-shove erupted in the opening half following a high tackle on Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith, Graham was heard saying “you’re a cheating c—t” at one of the Australian players.
Graham - one of the sport’s most fiery and competitive players - made no apologies for his outburst – admitting many harsh words were exchanged between the sides.
“Loads of stuff gets said on the field. If you don't like it turn off the ref mics,” Graham said.
“That's real life, real emotion out there. Stuff gets said all the time. Just because you pick it up ... you want to fake a reality? You want people to pat each other on the back? It is what it is. It's just the game.”
It is believed Graham was directing his barb at Smith, but struggled to remember the incident when raised after his side’s narrow 6-0 World Cup final loss at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
“I don't even remember what I said,” Graham said.
“I shouldn't have to either. Remember that, that's real. I shouldn't have to remember what I said and apologise to anyone. And I won't.
“It's just part of the game. People say stuff. I spoke to a couple of players and it was like, 'yeah, whatever'. What's done is done.”
Despite going down at the final hurdle, Graham believes the English side has made huge inroads under the guidance of Wayne Bennett and is hopeful the Broncos coach will continue in his role.
“I've been involved for almost a decade now and it's clear to see [the improvement],” Graham said.
“I think there's a togetherness. You can see that and the way we kept turning up for each other tonight was a testament to how much it means to that group. We got to a first final in a World Cup for God knows how long and we can take a lot out of that. It's hard to put it, but we're gutted we didn't win.
“There's a sense of achievement getting to our first final in so long. I'd love Wayne to continue and the job and what he's doing. He's been great for this group and I think that's plain to see. For 80 minutes we were only one score away.”