Widdop, Graham enticed by rugby league's growth
St George Illawarra duo Gareth Widdop and James Graham have reaffirmed their approval of Sunday morning's Test (AEST) between England and New Zealand at Denver's Mile High Stadium.
Widdop and Graham will line-up for England in the Test against Dragons teammate Leeson Ah Mau, who is set to make his debut for the Kiwis.
With State of Origin II set to be played 12 hours after England and New Zealand collide, Widdop was pleased that he could join in on the representative festivities – even if it means travelling across the globe.
Throw in the potential for rugby league's growth in the United States of America and Widdop believes Sunday morning's game is a recipe for success.
"It's a great opportunity to play in America, not only for us but for rugby league as a whole. We're hoping to expand the game. The general interest around Denver is really pleasing," Widdop said.
"It seems like they've pushed the game in the city very well and hopefully we get a fair turnout on the weekend. It's the start of us trying to grow the game.
"We don't have State of Origin and other representative boxes to tick as such, so for us to get away and represent our country in the middle of the season is really important," Widdop added.
"We don't get together much otherwise. New Zealand are in the same boat so it's great we get to have this game now leading into our three-Test series against them at the end of the year."
The price of travelling to America midway through the NRL Telstra Premiership is a small one in the grand scheme of putting international rugby league on the pedestal it deserves, according to Graham.
"We have been very passionate about getting this game on. I think it has the potential to grow over the next three years and as a game I think we need to think big," Graham – who will line up for England for the 40th time – said.
"For me, every time I get to represent my country it's always something I take pride in. I think we've gained a lot of others respect from our last World Cup campaign and especially our performance in the final so it's onwards and upwards from here."
The Dragons wish to thank England Rugby League for supplying audio of the above interviews.