Wade Graham has shed some light on his future, as he prepares to head into the last year of his deal at the Sharks, admitting that this season could be his 16th and final on Australian shores.
“It could potentially be my last in the NRL, for sure,” Graham said while appearing on James Graham’s Bye Round Podcast.
Which Super League side could Wade Graham potentially join in 2024?
Conjecture around Graham’s future existed this time last year as well before the veteran eventually inked a one-year contract to remain in the Shire, where he has played for over a decade.
MORE: Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen returns to Australia after ‘refreshing’ US rehab trip
The premiership-winning forward revealed he attracted plenty of interest from Super League sides at the time of his previous deal being struck but noted how one club in particular stood out to him.
“I’ve already had a few conversations with the UK teams,” the 32-year-old said.
“Catalans- Alex Chan reached out, so I’ve already spoken to them. And then a couple of other English Super League teams once they heard Catalans were interested.
“It was a pretty simple conversation I had with Catalans. They were the only one to 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.’”
Graham’s Canadian partner is from the French-speaking city of Quebec and the couple have raised their children to be bilingual. Naturally, a spell in France appeals to them.
“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,” he said.
Will this be Wade Graham’s final season in the NRL?
Graham admitted the grind of top-flight footy has taken a toll on his body, having not played more than 20 matches since 2017.
His starting place in Craig Fitzgibbon’s team is under threat in 2023 perhaps more than it ever has been after constantly being struck down by niggling injury complaints and concussion issues of late.
Since departing from Penrith in 2010, Graham has accumulated 235 appearances for Cronulla and needs just 23 more matches to reach the 300-game milestone in the NRL.
Although in the last few years there has been a noticeable drop-off in the second-rower’s form, registering less tries, linebreaks and offloads in the last two seasons combined than he did in 2020.
His 70 average running metres last year were also the least he has managed since his first season at the club in 2011.
“Sitting here right now, I’m feeling the pinch from a pre-season,” he said.
MORE: NRL reveal details of $100,000 Pre-Season Challenge – encourage ‘entertaining’ play
Graham is confident his experience will allow him to safely navigate through the campaign though with the physical load of pre-season significantly reduced once the regular week-to-week action rolls around in March.
“The training weeks lighten a bit and it’s all about the game,” he said.
“The games I still enjoy and the game is, in a lot of senses, 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 as much.”