A relieved Wade Graham is determined to make up for lost opportunities when he finally makes his State of Origin debut next week.
Graham was rubbed out of the NSW side for game two due to suspension but was recalled to coach Laurie Daley’s side on Monday for Origin III in place of Greg Bird.
Daley had said upon Graham’s one-match suspension for a high tackle on Johnathan Thurston that the Cronulla star might never play Origin.
Graham hoped at the time, it wouldn’t be the case.
“I’m pretty excited, when I got the message last night it was a pretty special feeling,” Graham said.
“You don’t think anything will top the first time you get told, but it was definitely sweeter the second time.
“There is a lot of relief that I get the opportunity.”
Graham said he didn’t dwell on missing out on game two.
“It was a tough time and it all felt like a blur,” he said.
“Probably the hardest part was going to the game, watching the boys warm up, and knowing that I couldn’t do it.”
However Graham returned to the NRL, didn’t take Daley’s comments to heart and held his form for a deserved call-up.
“I didn’t think about it too much. I understood where Laurie was coming from, that it is hard to get an opportunity and that when you do get an opportunity you have to make the most of it,” he said.
“For myself I was just taking from those comments as it was an opportunity lost.
Graham will play his first game in good friend and Sharks’ teammate Paul Gallen’s final Origin game.
“He is someone who has had a massive influence on my career,” Graham said.
“He is someone I have watched and admired for a long time and someone who has become a friend so to be able to share this stage with him will be pretty special.”
Gallen welcomed Graham’s selection.
“I am so happy and proud of him I get emotional about it,” Gallen said.
“I know he came to Cronulla after a phone call I made to him. I know about everything he has been through. To play a game alongside him it is going to be special for us both.”