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‘I’m all in’: Graham brushes off Blocker jibe over retirement

If he was, he didn’t get one.

When you get past besieged Dragons coach Paul McGregor, his million-dollar halfback Ben Hunt, the too-cool-for-school Corey Norman and even the types who don’t let those nasty banners in, St George Illawarra fans turn their fire to 34-year-old Graham.

James Graham is not thinking about retirement after the Dragons' winless start to the year.

James Graham is not thinking about retirement after the Dragons’ winless start to the year.

And the question of whether he’s played too long.

Staring down a camera and more than a dozen journalists probing via Zoom conferencing on Thursday, it’s hard to remember the usually thoughtful and candid Graham ever being so blunt with the media.

His mood resembled a man hurting from a winless start to the season – one that could be his last – with a battle against the equally desperate Bulldogs, his old club, looming on the Queen’s birthday long weekend.

It will hardly be a party for the winner, more like a funeral for the coaching career of either McGregor or Dean Pay if they’re the loser.

All I can say is I’m not looking for the door, I’m all in for this week. That’s all I can be

James Graham

Asked whether the Dragons’ current predicament is enough to convince him retirement would be enticing, Graham said: “All I can say is I’m not looking for the door, I’m all in for this week. That’s all I can be. The future will materialise. I’m not really thinking about my future, I’m thinking about this week and doing a job for the Dragons.

“[The media] comes with the territory, doesn’t it? I’m not shying away from it. I’m not naive enough to think it’s all going to be positive and make hay while the sun shines.

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“You are dealing with difficult moments and difficult times. I don’t necessarily need to be excited about [doing] it. Some of the questions I don’t really know what to say.”

This week, the Dragons have cut-price NRL rookie Adam Clune pegged to start at halfback should he overcome a nasty facial knock from training.

McGregor didn’t savagely swing the axe, but he sharpened it enough to make a couple of changes after a dismal 18-0 loss to the Warriors last week.

“You make changes [to the team] and it’s seen as panic,” Graham said. “You don’t, and it’s seen as sticking with the wrong team. Whatever you guys are going to say, you’re going to say. It doesn’t really matter what the coach did, it’s going to be met with negative aspects.

“All we care about [is] our hurt and how we feel. We know we want to be better. If you win things get better, if you lose things get worse.”

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