SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 05: James Graham of the Bulldogs and Sam Burgess of the Rabbitohs speak at the end of the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

They swear they’re the best of mates off the field, but Sam Burgess and James Graham will put their friendship on hold on Saturday to add another chapter to their on-field rivalry.

The Englishmen have clashed a number of times in the NRL, but this match up will mark the two forwards’ third clash in a finals series since Graham landed on Australian shores in 2012.

The St George Illawarra prop claimed the first victory with Canterbury defeating South Sydney in the 2012 preliminary finals, before Burgess struck back in the 2014 NRL Grand Final, not only lifting the trophy after the final siren, but also earning the Clive Churchill medal for best on ground.

Despite the significance of the Rabbitohs winning their first premiership in 43 years, it was the opening tackle of the clash which would see the game go down in folklore.

Burgess, taking the opening hit up, was met front on by Graham, leading to a head clash that saw Burgess’ eye socket and cheekbone fractured in the process. Despite the gruesome injury, the lock forward went on to play 80 minutes in the middle, and lead his side to glory.

While the pair have been international team mates since 2007, there is no holding back when the two fiery forwards meet face-to-face.

SEE ALSO:  Elliott pleads guilty to Mad Monday actions

Graham will be under a stack of pressure, losing partner in crime Paul Vaughan to injury for the remainder of the year, while Jack de Belin is under an injury cloud following a recurring ankle injury. With a trio of Burgess brothers plus emerging star Cameron Murray set to dominate the middle third for the Rabbitohs, Graham will need to lead from the front for St George if they are to pull off another huge upset.

The odds are already stacked against them, with Gareth Widdop’s re-dislocated shoulder almost certain to end his season, handing the reins to Kurt Mann. Both Graham and de Belin failed to finish the match for the Dragons, however both are expected to run out on Saturday, fully fit or not.

While the Rabbitohs are sure to be battered and bruised following their clash with Melbourne, two extra days will more than help the club ensure the squad is fully fit, with coach Anthony Seibold naming the same 17 that lined up at AAMI Park.

Whether he elects to use his full bench, or only use 15 players like he did last weekend is yet to be seen, but unless he’s sin-binned or injured, Slammin’ Sam is sure to be leading from the front for the full 80 minutes.

SEE ALSO:  Blythy’s 50 fearless predictions for 2019: 50-41

While Graham doesn’t have the motor of his English team mate, he is just as inspirational and detrimental for his side, and two will be sure to clash early and make their presence known.

With elimination from the finals series at risk, both men will be keen to bash the daylights out of each other, but only one can make it through to the next weekend. Regardless of whether it’s Burgess or Graham progressing, both are sure to leave their mark on the game, and on each other.

17 COMMENTS

  1. St George’s pack was brilliant last week. If they reproduce that form Soufths are in for a very interesting battle. Soufths will find even without Widdop that they are in for a deadest real semi final. If the Dragons were going to give up on this season then last week would of been the week. Like the Cowboys last season, everybody wrote them off and they had nothing to lose. That same attitude with no pressure on them has Saints sitting in the box seat with Soufths having ALL the pressure on them to win comfortably.

    🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱🎱My Tip Saints by 13+

    • Size is not every thing, what our beloved Rabbits need is backbone. We hit the lead and should of put Melbourne to the sword, but we crumbled. Sam Burgess got barreled on numerous occasions against Melbourne and then started to panic and do stupid passes and drop balls. Cronulla has big forwards but the Roosters rolled them easily. Easts have not got the biggest pack but were able to defeat the form pack. St George will be harder than we think. Remember Brisbane defeated us twice this year and look what Saints did to Brisbane in Brisbane with only about 2000 St George fans. They will get heaps of fans for this game. Melbourne had a few players out and we were at full strength, albeit we lost. My immediate thoughts are that we really are not in the best form for the semis. We have only won three games from the past eight outings.

  2. Graham and Burgess set for another historic clash… that James Graham won’t remember and no one else will be able to forget Sam’s involvement in.

    • Ever since the Roosters exposed how to handle Sam Burgess, he has been getting belted up for the last month and being the leader of the pack it gives the other teams forwards the edge. Make no mistake, it has been no coincidence that after the Roosters victory over Soufths they lost another two and lost to Melbourne from the Roosters blue print. Soufths only victory in 5 weeks is against Wests who just really wasn’t interested in playing with nothing to play for🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣

  3. Graham is a dirty player, not a grub in the Smith class, but a dirty player nonetheless, his head has taken out quite a few players in the past and hope it does not rise it’s ugly head again.

    I believe that Souths will win, but the way this comp is going anything can happen, no more do scripts go according to plan, all i want is for Souths to get another crack at EASTS cause i have no doubt we will win with or without Mitchell, and has we know it’s no Mitchell.
    Souths v Storm in the grand final i reckon.

      • Yeah Burgess must be close to most suspended player in NRL history. He’s a bigger grub than most and has never modified his style. Graham is not the same grub he was at the dogs that’s for sure.

  4. Hi Reg its Fletch here, Souths will need to pull it together for this dynamic clash re:Saints. Their forwards were awesome last week, Graham played 10 minutes yet inspired the team to victory from his defence within that shortish stint and his pre game speech. Reggie, this will be a classic battle between the two Englishmen. I dearly want our Rabbits to get home however the facts look grim.

    • RussCrower, this is HugeActMan, and I’ve got to say you’re more deserving of the Oscar than I this year, for your portrayal of a Bunnies supporter.

      • I have been supporting my beloved South Sydney Rabbits for decades. Unlike Oneyedrabbit, Penzo, 3caps, Sstid_1970 etc,etc,etc,etc,etc and all those other unscrupulous, unopened minded and absurd Rabbit fans, who refuse to except reality, about our team not being in the ultimate 2014 premiership form. Then you all must be on a coarse of deflating agony. I, a loyal Souths fan, have been trying abundantly with ultimate facts, to point out that we are in huge disarray coming into this semi final series, with three wins from eight games, yet like a rabbit being tossed into a greyhound hutch, my fellow rabbit fans, attack my loyalty. My heart bleeds that Souths of 2018 do not compare to the 2014 premiership side. To dream on like a soul who purchased a ticket in a 50 million dollar lotto draw, of a win. Is like my fellow Souths comrades not facing up to reality and dreaming of a premiership that, for this season perhaps is, total fantasy. I am a realist, we could not defeat Melbourne, with stars absent with our best side, now we must win three to inherit the title, yet it has never been achieved this way in the past. Are we the greatest side this season ever, in the recent modern history? You fellow Souths fans attacking my green and red blood, must answer this question for yourselves. If you heed my wisdom, you will acknowledge the evidence, henceforth when defeat strikes us this week or next, thou will be able to save ones train fare from purchasing a ticket to the Harbour Bridge, and performing a final swan dive into the depths of the ocean. To drown your sorrows. Lets all live together and except, we will be better next year for the experience.

  5. I have been supporting my beloved South Sydney Rabbits for decades. Unlike all those other unscrupulous, unopened minded and absurd Rabbit fans, who refuse to except reality, about our team not being in the ultimate 2014 premiership form. Then you all must be on a coarse of deflating agony. I, a loyal Souths fan, have been trying abundantly with ultimate facts, to point out that we are in huge disarray coming into this semi final series, with three wins from eight games, yet like a rabbit being tossed into a greyhound hutch, my fellow rabbit fans, attack my loyalty. My heart bleeds that Souths of 2018 do not compare to the 2014 premiership side. To dream on like a soul who purchased a ticket in a 50 million dollar lotto draw, of a win. Is like my fellow Souths comrades not facing up to reality and dreaming of a premiership that, for this season perhaps is, total fantasy. I am a realist, we could not defeat Melbourne, with stars absent with our best side, now we must win three to inherit the title, yet it has never been achieved this way in the past. Are we the greatest side this season ever, in the recent modern history? You fellow Souths fans attacking my green and red blood, must answer this question for yourselves. If you heed my wisdom, you will acknowledge the evidence, henceforth when defeat strikes us this week or next, thou will be able to save ones train fare from purchasing a ticket to the Harbour Bridge, and performing a final swan dive into the depths of the ocean. To drown your sorrows. Lets all live together and except, we will be better next year for the experience.

Comments are closed.