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Graham to hit ground running for RLWC

Chris Kennedy - NRL.com National Correspondent

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St George Illawarra 2018 recruit James Graham has had a head start on Rugby League World Cup training, meeting up with fellow Sydney-based England squad members ahead of the October 27 kick-off.

Speaking to media at the Dally M awards, the former Canterbury skipper also reiterated his support for both sacked coach Des Hasler as well as club chair Ray Dib, who he said had an extremely tough job.

"The time off has been and gone and now it's back into pretty much full training. I want to try and hit the ground running for a strong World Cup," Graham said of his current schedule.

"He has been doing some training on his own but the Sydney-based England boys are meeting up twice a week," he added. 

"It's pretty intense, there's six of us there (including fellow Dragon Gareth Widdop, Shark Chris Heighington and Rabbitohs trio Sam, George and Tom Burgess).

"It's been hard because there's not much football you can do. It's been good to get back into that camp mode and see a few of the England lads.

"We're training at Newington College, It's been intense. Fingers crossed I get the nod for the [England squad] camp in Perth two weeks from Friday."

With international duties, Graham and Widdop will then return for pre-season at the Dragons in January.

Of the recent coaching upheaval at his now-former club, Graham reiterated his public support for Des Hasler – who he said had made him both a better footballer and person during their time together at the Bulldogs – but also for chairman Ray Dib.

"I don't agree with the calls for Ray Dib's head," Graham said.

"He's a similar ilk as Des, puts a lot of time and effort into that club. I hope both parties can move on and succeed in different paths. 

"I sincerely hope that everything turns out for the best and I sincerely hope Des's coaching career gets back on track wherever that may be."

This article first appeared on NRL.com