Wade Graham has vowed to continue his super-aggressive approach to shutting down Johnathan Thurston, even if it means risking a grand final suspension.
Cronulla backrower Graham’s hard at it approach to containing North Queensland playmaker Thurston the last time the NRL sides met cost the Sharks star his NSW State of Origin debut.
But Graham said he won’t change a thing in Friday’s preliminary final between the Sharks and the Cowboys at ANZ Stadium.
“You can’t back down, you have to try to pressure him,” Graham told AAP.
“He is a great player and so that inside pressure is a big part of trying to shut him down.
“Thurston is such a vital part of their side and he showed that again last week.
“We will have to be at our best to stop him.”
Graham caught Thurston with a high tackle in the round 14 clash at Southern Cross Group Stadium, won 13-10 by the Sharks. He was found guilty of a high tackle at the NRL judiciary and rubbed out of Origin II.
A similar tackle could see Graham miss the grand final.
“I’m not thinking about that,” he said
“It was a rough time around the Origin period, missing my debut.
“But it (the tackle) was one of those things that happened on the footy field.
“I came out of the line, Thurston ducked and slipped and I caught him high.
“I don’t really think about it too much, just try to concentrate on what I have to do.”
Graham said the Sharks had been buoyed by their qualifying final win over Canberra, in which they were missing captain Paul Gallen due to a back injury and Graham himself to concussion after seven minutes.
“If you just isolate that performance, it just shows the team has a lot of character,” Graham said.
“To lose Gal the day before and me seven minutes in no one really gave us a chance and they got it done.
“It was a hell of a performance.”
Graham quashed talk of revenge after the Cowboys humiliated Cronulla’ 39-0 in last year’s semi-final as the sides play off for a grand final spot on Friday.
“I don’t think there are any thoughts of revenge, we just want to keep the dream alive,” he said.