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Defections may hurt Super League: Graham

England international James Graham says he has concerns over the standard of the European Super League as northern hemisphere players continue to be lured to the NRL.
Defections may hurt Super League: Graham
by AAP

By James MacSmith

SYDNEY, June 16 AAP - England international James Graham says he has concerns over the standard of the European Super League as northern hemisphere players continue to be lured to the NRL.

The Sydney Roosters signing of French international Remi Casty is the latest in what has become a stream of European players keen to ply their trade in what is considered rugby league's toughest domestic competition.

Casty joins the likes of Graham, South Sydney's Burgess brothers Sam and George, Melbourne's Gareth Widdop, Parramatta-bound forwards Lee Mossop and Gareth Hock, North Queensland hooker Scott Moore and Mike Cooper, signed by St George Illawarra for the next two seasons, as English NRL acquisitions.

Canterbury prop Graham has followed in the footsteps of former Roosters enforcer and Wests Tigers' Gareth Ellis in making a big impact in the NRL in recent years. With the NRL salary cap due to continue to rise in coming years and the UK pound no longer having the strength it once did European players are set to continue to see the NRL as a viable option.

Hull's England international Tom Briscoe is another who has been linked to a move to the NRL. As has Wigan superstar and reigning Man of Steel Sam Tomkins, who was recently sounded out by Rabbitohs owner Russell Crowe at a movie premiere. And Leeds prop Ryan Bailey has been linked to Brisbane.

Graham said more English players coming to the NRL would be a good thing for the national team's prospect but that it could be detrimental to the standard of the Super League.

"The more exposure to these high level games that English players can have you obviously get that benefit for the national team but also you have to look at what it might do to the English competition so it's a catch-22 situation," Graham said.

"If a lot of players come down here you have to look at what effect that would have on the European Super League so it's about finding that right balance."

"It's a bit of a concern."

Graham said he has thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Bulldogs and expected more European players to follow suit.

"There have always been players coming here, look at Adrian Morley, he was someone who took that opportunity to play in the NRL and he was outstanding," he said.

"And I think more and more players are looking at that opportunity because they want to test themselves in the NRL."


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