St Helens would make NRL top four, says James Graham

Alex Walmsley St Helens James Graham
Alex Walmsley lifts Super League Grand Final trophy for St Helens in 2021

James Graham believes the current St Helens team would be top four contenders every season if they played in Australia’s NRL.

Saints legend Graham ended his career with a memorable 2020 Grand Final win and is now retired in Australia where he enjoyed an eight-year stint with Canterbury Bulldogs and St George Illawarra Dragons.

The former Great Britain and England forward remains a huge fan of Saints. They saw their hopes of another treble ended by rivals Wigan last weekend in a thrilling Challenge Cup semi-final.

And Graham believes the defending Super League champions remain the benchmark this season. And he said they would thrive if they competed in the NRL.

“I think Saints would go really well in the NRL,” Graham told this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast.

“The competition over here is not that dissimilar to the competition in England.

“I have no doubt that a top team like St Helens who are not a one off, who have consistently performed going back to the Justin Holbrook years, they would be a genuine top four contender here every single season I believe.”


Kristian Woolf praised for St Helens domination in recent times

Speaking exclusively on The Big Interview for this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast, Graham reveals the secrets to St Helens’ three consecutive Grand Final wins; and admits that coach Kristian Woolf is a huge reason for their recent domination of the British game.

“This Saints team is very different from some of those top St Helens teams that anyone over the age of 30 would remember; the early 2000s with the Longs, Sculthorpes and Cunninghams. 

“The team that has won three on the spin and the Cup last year has a very different atmosphere but a quality one nonetheless. It is a commitment to excellence, and I really enjoyed Kristian Woolf’s coaching style. He is very plain and to the point. He explains and defines your role, tells you exactly what you need to do. It is then up to the team to go out there and get it done. 

“The likes of Percival, Roby, Lomax and young Lewis Dodd are super-talented players. Walmsley, the list goes on. So if you are ever in an environment with that talent that you can marry in with hard-working individuals like Morgan Knowles, the results can be pretty spectacular.

“It is one of, if not the best team that Super League has ever seen.”


James Graham remembers treble-winning 2006 St Helens team

Graham though admits his fondest Saints memories actually go further back than his memorable Grand Final win that brought the curtain down on his career two seasons ago.

“I’m nostalgic and loved the 2006 team so much. It’s because I was young and playing with my heroes at Knowsley Road. It was the place I fell in love with the game at.

“I loved that team for the time of my life, that has the biggest place in my heart.”

PODCAST: Kallum Watkins on playing in the pack, time in NRL & World Cup ambitions


  1. James is being very kind! The current Saints team does not currently touch the team in his era, that they are at the top, reflects the game here has gone backwards compared to the NRL, which is much faster and a better game all round. I had that feeling Wigan would beat Saints.

  2. He’s talking rubbish though. They wouldn’t make the 8. Watch that Penrith v Parramatta game and you’ll see a totally different sport to Super League. The speed of the game for 80 minutes was phenomenal. Our game is pedestrian in comparison and that’s why Saints couldn’t live with it week in week out.

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