Graham to lead England out

Published: Tuesday 21st October 2014 by The News Editor

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James Graham will lead England in the opening match of the Four Nations Series against Samoa in Brisbane on Saturday after newly-appointed captain Sean O’Loughlin was ruled out through injury.

O’Loughlin, who was appointed as the successor to Kevin Sinfield, has failed to recover from a quad muscle injury sustained during Wigan’s Super League Grand Final defeat to St Helens 10 days ago.

England say the loose forward is making good progress in his recovery and is expected to play in England’s second match against Australia in Melbourne on November 2.

Graham, the former St Helens forward who has spent the last three seasons in the NRL with Canterbury Bulldogs, will step into the role of captaincy, as he did during England’s 2010 Four Nations campaign in the southern hemisphere, when he replaced the injured Adrian Morley.

“It is a shame that Sean misses the match with a problem with his quad,” said England coach Steve McNamara.

“The Samoa match has come too soon but we remain confident he’ll be ready for Australia the week after.

“James Graham will take over the captaincy for this game. He is a great leader and we saw that with the Bulldogs this season in the NRL where he single-handedly led them to a Grand Final.

“He leads by example and gives 100 per cent effort in everything he does. He inspires everyone around him to follow his lead.”

McNamara has named four debutants in his 17-man squad – Wigan scrum-half Matty Smith and Hull KR hooker Josh Hodgson in the starting line-up and Joe Westerman (Hull) and Daryl Clark (Castleford) on the bench.

“They are ready,” McNamara said. “They’ve been in our system for a long time. All four have been in great form during the Super League season.

“There is a slight evolution to the squad this year with some new faces on show. The debutants are exciting and they can prove themselves on the international stage.”

Published: Tuesday 21st October 2014 by The News Editor

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