While he may not be 18th or 19th man and there is little chance of him receiving any sort of late call up for State of Origin game two, the fact that the NSW ‘brains trust’ think so highly of Wade Graham as to invite him into an Origin camp is a positive pointer for the Sharks backrower.
Long recognised as a player of representative quality, Graham, along with young Raiders centre Jack Wighton, were yesterday given the call by NSW Coach Laurie Daley to join the team in the Blues ‘bunker’ in Coffs Harbour.
As Daley has emphasized the need to build a positive team culture since taking over the NSW Origin reins last year, not just with the players in the immediate playing group but also with those tipped for future inclusion, with Graham and Wighton joining in the preparations a further step in that process.
A part of building this culture and having young players ready to go when the situation requires or the opportunity presents, Graham and Wighton will eat, sleep, train and prepare like Origin players in the lead up to next Wednesday night’s clash, with the aim of the exercise being that if and when they do get the Origin call up sometime in the future, the experience will be less daunting and nothing will come as a surprise.
The Sharks heir apparent, Graham deputises for skipper Paul Gallen when the captain is missing from Cronulla games, with his leadership qualities, toughness and skills obviously being noticed by those in higher places.
Still just 23, Graham has already played 120 NRL games, 78 for the Sharks since joining the club in 2011.
With the Sharks having the bye this weekend Graham’s involvement at Origin camp won’t impact on his availability for his teams’ next match, which is against Manly on June 21.
State of Origin game two, a match in which NSW will be looking to end an eight-year Queensland domination, is scheduled for ANZ Stadium in Sydney next Wednesday, June 18.