Graham aims to prove himself against Australia

James Graham might have won most of the individual awards that matter in England last season, but he knows that his battle to establish his international credentials begins on Sunday, when he faces Australia for the first time.

The St Helens prop lost his chance of representing Great Britain in the Tri-Nations two years ago when he badly cut his hand during Saints' post-Grand Final celebrations.

Now a more mature 23, he starts to make up for lost time in the World Cup clash here. "It's a challenge, but one I'm looking forward to and relishing," he said. "If you want to be rated, you have to do it against Australia."

One theory Graham does not buy into is the one that says that Australia's starting front-rowers, Steven Price and Petero Civoniceva, both the wrong side of 30, are over the hill and waiting to be knocked over by a new generation of props.

"Age is just a number," Graham said. "They didn't exactly play like old men against New Zealand. They are still top quality front-rowers and I will be treating them with respect." Graham, who won the Man of Steel and Rugby League Writers' Player of the Year titles last season, is again expected to start ahead of Adrian Morley, who will be on the bench. "He hasn't played much for a while and, although I suppose it's some sort of compliment to me, it's great to have him there waiting to come into the game."

The vigour of forwards like Graham, Morley and the widely respected England captain, Jamie Peacock, is one reason why the Australian coach, Ricky Stuart, is expecting a far tougher examination than that predicted by some of his more complacent fellow-countrymen.

The Aussie press and public were deeply unimpressed by England's effort against Papua New Guinea on Saturday, but Stuart says that will be no guide to events at the Telstra Dome. "I think it will be a very different match," he said. "England will make it a traditional Test match. When you look at the experience of forwards like Adrian Morley, that kind of passionate commitment to wearing the shirt will spread through the team. They have a lot of confrontational type of footballers."

The World Cup's organisers are distinctly twitchy over how confrontational the football could become in Penrith tonight, when Tonga face their traditional island rivals from Samoa. A win for Tonga will take them into the semi-final qualifier, while a victory for Samoa will leave them needing a win over Ireland to get a step further along the way. There are big populations from both nations in Sydney's western suburbs and there will be extra police on duty in Penrith tonight.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence