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Burgess brothers line up flying Scotsman Graham for GB Lions

Teenage South Sydney winger Campbell Graham has emerged as a contender for the Great Britain Lions' end-of-season tour after being encouraged by the Burgess brothers to make himself available for selection.

Graham, who is also coached by Lions mentor Wayne Bennett at Souths, was called into an extended Scotland squad for the 2017 World Cup after making his NRL debut late in the season amid HSC exams.

However, he dropped out of the squad because he was advised he would be better served getting a full off-season of training under his belt.

A former Australian Schoolboys captain, the 19-year-old is eligible for Scotland through his Glasgow-born father, Stewart, while his mother is from Coventry.

"My dad came to Australia when he was 22 and the Scotland Rugby League manager FaceTimed me and my family before the World Cup," Graham said.

"We had a few conversations around whether I wanted to play for Scotland and I would love to represent my heritage but it was felt that an NRL pre-season would be better for my career and my game at that point in time.

"I passed that up at the time but hopefully there are future opportunities and if I get the chance again and they want me to put the jersey on I would be happy to do so.

“My dad was stoked when he found out I was being considered for the World Cup and I would love to represent my dad’s side of the family. I’ve still got a lot of family in the UK and Scotland and I feel like it is a big part of who I am so if I get the opportunity again I will take it with both hands."

With the Lions touring for the first time since 2006, Graham could play for Great Britain in Tests against Tonga, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea through his Scottish heritage and still qualify to represent Australia in the future.

However, the Maroubra Lions junior won’t rule out playing for England either and as Scotland is a tier-two nation he can represent the Brave Hearts and align himself to a tier-one nation later.

He said the Burgess brothers, Sam, George and Tom, had urged him to consider playing for the Lions.

"They have made a few jokes about me chucking on the Great Britain jersey for the Lions tour and I’d definitely consider it," Graham said. "I am aware that I can play for Scotland and still be eligible for Australia or England in the future.

"Wayne’s here as well so there might be a bit of pull there for me to chuck on the white and red. If those opportunities arise I will definitely be looking into that."

Bennett initially viewed Graham as a centre when the seven-time premiership-winning coach arrived at Souths last December but the form of Braidon Burns has forced him to remain on the wing as captain Greg Inglis switched from left to right centre.

With Bennett wanting Inglis to play alongside Dane Gagai, Graham has shifted from the right to the left wing, where he has scored two tries in two games playing outside Cody Walker, John Sutton and Burns heading into Sunday night’s clash with Gold Coast at ANZ Stadium.

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"I had a few conversations with Wayne about making the switch to the centres and I did a few reps there in the pre-season and had a little bit of game time there in the trials," Graham said.

"But Braidon Burns had a really strong pre-season and he forced his way into the back line on the left, and Wayne wanted Gags and Greg to work together so I jumped over to the left.

"I am quite comfortable in the centres but I am also enjoying my time on the wing. It shows the stiff competition we have at the club in the outside back department."

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Sutton, who was playing first grade for the Rabbitohs before Campbell had begun school, has monitored the 197cm back’s rise through the club’s junior ranks.

"It was impressive to see a kid going to school and then coming to train with the first-grade side," Sutton said. "I didn’t do my HSC so I wouldn’t have known what that was like.

"He is a great kid, a Souths junior, and he is just going from strength to strength. He can play anywhere and you know he will do a good job."

Describing himself as a “late bloomer”, Graham believes he has a lot of improvement because he didn’t take up league until a decade ago when he was nine years old.

"My dad had me playing soccer from when I was about four years old and I only started playing rugby league because friends from school were playing," he said.

"I started watching it on TV and I got really into it. I became a big fan of rugby league in general and from about under 9s I was a bit over soccer.

"My dad was a bit shattered when I told him I just wanted to play rugby league but he is a big supporter of anything I want to do and now he is into it more than I am."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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