James Graham retires from England duty

St Helens forward James Graham says he does not wish to be considered for selection for the 2021 World Cup.

Graham, 35, is the most-capped England player in history, and had been part of new coach Shaun Wane’s plans for the postponed Ashes series at the end of this year.

But the former Canterbury Bulldogs and St George-Illawarra Dragons prop has informed Wane that he is planning to retire from international duty at the end of 2020.

His future at club level is yet to be determined, with St Helens saying an announcement will be made in due course.

Graham has played 44-times for England, as well as making nine appearances for Great Britain.

He said: “Playing for England and GB, and representing all the people that have been a part of your career, is just simply an honour. I know it sounds cheesy but every time I’ve sung the anthem, I’ve looked to the sky and thought about those people. It saddens me that I won’t get to have that feeling as a player again.

“Without doubt the highlight is the series-clinching victory over the Kiwis at Anfield two years ago. I can’t speak highly enough of that group of men. After the World Cup in 2017 we had become so close, but we needed to cap it off with some silverware. We managed to do it in one of the best games of Rugby League played in this country in my opinion.

“On a personal level with the emotions of playing in my home city and having friends and family in the stadium to watch, that game will always be so special to me.

“I will always be a passionate supporter of England Rugby League – and I’ll be cheering on Shaun Wane and the lads at the World Cup next year.”

He scored twice on his GB debut against New Zealand in 2006, and played in the victorious test series against the Kiwis in 2007, before the Great Britain concept was shelved.

His England debut followed against France in June 2008, and he played at three World Cups, starting in the 2017 final defeat to Australia.

What turned out to be his final international appearance was the 34-0 defeat to New Zealand at Elland Road in November 2018, which remains the last time England played an international match.

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