St George Illawarra veteran James Graham can’t blame star teammate Tyson Frizell for wanting to win a premiership, even if it's at a rival club in Newcastle.
In a bitter blow for the Dragons' long-term title prospects, Frizell has agreed to a three-year deal with the Knights beginning next season.
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The Dragons confirmed the move on Friday morning, but the NRL has yet to register the contract with the season currently suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.
“Tyson Frizell received one of the most substantial offers in St George Illawarra history to remain at the club beyond the 2020 season,” Dragons director of rugby league pathways and list management Ian Millward said.
“It was a deal that reflected his contribution over the past eight years, and of course, the seasons that would have followed. We made responsible decisions when determining Tyson's value and contract extension.
“Tyson's decision to depart the Dragons at season's end will now allow the club to pursue other quality players in the marketplace.”
The current Kangaroos and NSW State of Origin representative has been open about his personal ambition to lift a trophy.
And it appears he believes it will be with Newcastle, who already boast a roster that includes Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, David Klemmer and Daniel Saifiti.
The Knights sat on top of the table after winning their opening two games of the season before it was abruptly halted by the global pandemic, while the Dragons lost their two games.
Graham reacts to ‘disappointing’ Frizell reports
Graham said he can’t argue with Frizell, who, at 28 years of age is arguably at the peak of his powers, for wanting to chase a ring.
“I don't disagree with him for saying that that's why he wants to play. That's what most of us would want to do,” Graham said on Fox League Mornings.
“If Tyson's got his reasons for going to Newcastle, then that's fair enough. Obviously if he's choosing Newcastle over St George, then it's disappointing.”
Graham, 34, himself is off-contract at the end of the season, and his possible departure, along with Frizell, would give the Dragons plenty of salary cap space.
“It is what it is. To be honest, I'm here for the same amount of time as Tyson. I've got another year left,” Graham said.
“Hopefully we can do something together if we get the season back on track.”