Cronulla Sharks forward Wade Graham has hinted that this season could be his last in the NRL, and would consider an opportunity in Super League.
The 32-year-old forward is in the final year of his contract with the Sharks. He is considering his options for 2024.
Graham recently appeared on James Graham’s The Bye Round Podcast, where he said 2023 could be his final season in the NRL.
Graham has made no secret of his interest of playing in France one day. His partner is a French-speaking Canadian, with himself also a French speaker, so living in Perpignan could fit the bill.
When asked by James Graham whether this year will be his last in the NRL, Wade Graham replied: “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 its 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”
“Opportunities outside of the game – if there are opportunities outside of the game here to go straight in to a working industry or a position at the club – these are all things I’d have to weigh up with my family, but potentially it could be (my last season).”
Being his own agent
Graham doesn’t have an agent or management team, negotiating his own contracts for a while now.
The former Australia international 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.
“I’ve already had a few conversations with the UK teams,” Graham told James Graham’s The Bye Round Podcast.
“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.
“Other players and other clubs in the NRL certainly know that I manage myself. I think I’ve got a good enough relationship with a lot of people that it wouldn’t be hard to track down my number if they were interested.
“I’d rather have the conversation myself with someone and gage whether there is legitimate interest rather than go through a third party to ‘he said this’ or ‘he said that’.
“I’d be happy to sit down with anyone for a five minute chat over a coffee”
“I’ve done my last two deals with the Sharks on my own; not this time around but the previous time there was certainly interest from other clubs. I had a few meetings and to be honest it hasn’t been that challenging. I find it a much simpler process when you sit down with the coach and footy manager and they tell you their expectation; and you tell them your expectation. There is either genuine interest and we can work through this process or there isn’t genuine interest; and we are just not aligned. I’ve found that process not too hard to be honest.”
Wade Graham would be keen for France move
Graham’s partner is from Quebec, a French-speaking city in Canada. Graham says they speak French regularly in their household. Their children are also learning the language, so they can communicate with their grandparents.
The former New South Wales representative is keen to experience life in France.
“It was a pretty simple conversation I had with Catalans,” Graham continued.
“They were the only one to actually offer a deal and I spoke to Alex and he was great. I said ‘listen mate, I’m not here to play games, I’m legitimately keen to come at some stage because of my family situation’. You don’t need to try and persuade me, I’ve told you I’m interested so put your deal down what you can actually think you can manage and we’ll go from there.”
Graham has made 231 appearances for Cronulla since making the move from Penrith in 2011.
The experienced forward played a key role in the Sharks’ NRL Premiership success in 2016. He then helped Australia win the World Cup in 2017.