Stat Attack: Graham joins elite dual 150 club
Bulldogs and Dragons stalwart James Graham will hit a rare milestone when he runs out this weekend, becoming just the fourth player to rack up at least 150 games in both the UK and Australian competitions.
The 32-year-old Graham played a whopping 224 games for St Helens in the English Super League before signing with Canterbury mid-career, playing 135 games in blue and white before switching to the Dragons this season where he will rack up his 15th game at his new club and 150th in the NRL on Thursday night, according to NRL.com Stats.
Plenty of Australian players have enjoyed long and successful careers in both hemispheres without cracking the magical 150-mark in both, including names like Matt Gidley, Brett Hodgson and Pat Richards.
Conversely plenty of good Englishmen have headed to our shores for fruitful careers again without chalking up the sort of numbers Graham has achieved, including Adrian Morley, Sam Burgess, Gareth Ellis and Mal Reilly.
According to League Information Services statistician David Middleton, Graham will become just the fourth to twin 150s, following the path of Greg Mackey, Tony Puletua and Joel Monaghan.
Younger fans may not remember Mackey, who was a halfback who played exactly 150 games from 1980 to 1989 in the NSWRL for the Rabbitohs, Steelers and Bulldogs before heading to the UK. There he chalked up 218 more appearances for Warrington and Hull in the Rugby Football League Championship that preceded the Super League.
Penrith wrecking ball and 2003 premiership-winner Tony Puletua had a fine NRL career over 12 seasons with Penrith but casual fans may not realise the long-serving back-rower did more than a twilight season in England, playing 176 games from 2009 to 2015 for St Helens, Salford and Hull KR.
Monaghan was good enough to play five Tests for Australia and three Origins for NSW during a nine-year, 173-game career for the Raiders and Roosters before departing the NRL in the wake of a Mad Monday incident.
While he may have disappeared from Australian fans' radars, Monaghan proved a try-scoring sensation in the Super League, scoring a try per game in 145 appearances for Warrington before adding 31 more starts at Castleford before hanging up the boots last year.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor said on Wednesday he expected all his representative players bar Tyson Frizell to back up on Thursday with England representatives Graham and Gareth Widdop having been back on deck since Monday. This paves the way for Graham to chalk up Telstra Premiership game 150 when he runs out against the Eels on Thursday night.