NRL veteran announces retirement despite confirmed interest in Super League move

Josh McAllister
Wade Graham to retire at end of 2023.

Wade Graham has announced he will hang up the boots at the end of the 2023 NRL season. Picture by Australian Associated Press/Alamy Live News.

Cronulla Sharks veteran Wade Graham has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2023 NRL season. 

Graham, 32, announced the decision to a room full of current and former team-mates earlier this week just after celebrating his 250th appearance for Cronulla.

The former Australia international joined the Sharks from Penrith Panthers ahead of the 2011 NRL season, and was later an integral member of the 2016 NRL Premiership winning side.

Graham took over as captain in 2020 following the retirement to club legend Paul Gallen, having previously shared the duties during his final years.

The utility forward has eight caps for Australia and made six State of Origin appearances for New South Wales between 2016 and 2019.

He made his NRL debut with Penrith in 2008 against St George Illawarra Dragons.

Wade Graham announces retirement despite Super League interest

The forward had previously hinted that the 2023 season could be his last in the NRL, and would consider an opportunity in Super League with Catalans Dragons.

Speaking on James Graham’s The Bye Round Podcast in January, Graham made no secret of his interest in playing in France one day. His partner is a French-speaking Canadian, with himself also a French speaker.


Graham said ahead of the 2023 season kick-off: “It could potentially be my last in the NRL, for sure.

“You never say never and footy is always a funny game so I don’t quite know right now.

“Sitting here right now, I’m feeling the pinch from a pre-season.

“But once the games start rolling around the training weeks lighten a bit and it’s all about the game.

“The games I still enjoy and the game is, in a lot of senses now, easier than it’s ever been because you have less anxiety around the actual build up and the weeks are stress free because you aren’t worrying so much.

“But if the body is okay, if the opportunity was to come up overseas, especially in France because of the family situation, I would for sure look at it, but everything is on the cards.”

“Alex Chan reached out.”

Graham was reportedly in talks with Catalans Dragons last year about a possible move for 2023. However, he went on to sign a one-year extension with the Sharks.

Having negotiated his own contracts, Graham admitted that Alex Chan had previously reached out about a move to Perpignan, with other Super League clubs then getting in touch after hearing his interest in Super League.

“I’ve already had a few conversations with the UK teams,” Graham previously said.

“Catalans, Alex Chan reached out and he’s a footy manager over there, so I’ve already spoken to those teams; and a couple of English Super League teams once they heard Catalans were interested.

“They just contacted me to say if I wasn’t actually thinking about going over to the UK that before I decide anything, they’d like the opportunity for me to hear them out.”

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