His State of Origin dream rests in the hands of the NRL judiciary, but that hasn’t stopped NSW rookie Wade Graham from sending a shout-out to good mate Boyd Cordner.
Graham is the only change Blues coach Laurie Daley made from the team that was pipped by two points in the series-opener, replacing injured second-rower Cordner.
After arriving in Coffs Harbour for day one of Blues camp on Tuesday, the Cronulla backrower will head back to Sydney on Wednesday night to fight a careless high tackle charge picked up on Monday night in Cronulla’s 13-10 win over North Queensland.
Graham only found out of his Blues selection at fulltime, and he was quickly congratulated by Cordner.
“I checked my phone when I come off and he was one of the first blokes who texted me,” Graham said.
Graham was one of the first to console Cordner after the Sydney Roosters tyro learned of the serious foot injury he picked up in game one, and has been in constant communication with him since.
25-year-old Graham vowed to do his best to replicate the performance that earned Cordner, the Blues’ only tryscorer at ANZ Stadium two weeks ago, the players’ player award.
“I’ll go out there and try my best for him, for NSW and for myself,” he said.
“We’re probably a bit different players, but I’ll bring something different to the table than he does. I know how much the jersey means to him and the other guys and I’ll certainly be trying to bring that myself, and not letting him down in that department for sure.”
Daley said it was Graham’s role on the left edge for the Sharks, as well as his club combination with clubmates James Maloney, Paul Gallen and Andrew Fifita that got him the nod over a number of candidates.
“While we’re disappointed to lose Boyd – and Boyd was our best player in game one – it just gives an opportunity for us to use Wade,” he said.
“He plays left side, which is important, and he plays with Jimmy Maloney so there’s a good combination there straightaway. For us it was a no brainer to come in.”