NRL great James Graham's emotional moment with childhood club: 'Champion'

James Graham (pictured right) became emotional during a ceremony and (pictured left) Graham during a photo shoot.
James Graham (pictured right) became emotional when he presented his golden cap back to his junior club. (Images: Getty Images/@MikeMeehallWood)

NRL and England great James Graham has broken down in tears as he gifted his childhood club his prized golden cap in a beautiful ceremony.

The former Bulldogs and Dragons forward has joined Andrew Voss on the Fox Sports commentary team for the World Cup in his home nation.

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And the Englishman took time away from the competition to visit his juniour rugby league club Thatto Heath.

Recently, Graham was gifted a golden cap for 50 international appearances during his stellar career as a rampaging forward.

And in a touching moment, Graham broke down in tears as he donated the cap to his junior club for giving him a chance when he was younger.

"It's places like this that give people a chance in life," an emotional Graham said.

"It's the most unique thing I have ever been awarded and it's important to give it back.

"I was just a kid and I was given the opportunity to come and play."

Graham made plenty of fans during his time in the NRL and was also a fan favourite back at home.

And fans were quick to praise the NRL great's touching move for his junior club.

The touching gesture from Graham follows a sad moment the other week when he revealed the damage his rugby league career had taken on his brain.

James Graham's 'chilling' reveal in retirement

Graham played 423 games across the NRL and Super League for St Helens, Canterbury and St George Illawarra during a bruising career.

And the forward has been particularly articulated in the past that he considered head injuries simply part and parcel of professional rugby league.

Since his retirement from the sport in 2020 though, Graham's views about the risks of concussion in sport have demonstrably changed.

The forward has openly spoken about his battles after his retirement and has recently become an advocate for minimising the risk of head trauma in professional sport.

NEWFormer rugby player James Graham (pictured) speaks during the Rugby League World Cup 2021 Gala Dinner.
Former rugby player James Graham (pictured) has recently become an advocate for minimising the risk of head trauma in professional sport. (Photo by Bruce White/Getty Images for RLWC2021)

Graham, in conjunction with The Australian, recently launched the Head Noise podcast, in which he delves into the effects his bruising career has taken on his body.

“While the neuropsychological tests I passed quite well … it has been confirmed via an MRI scan that part of my 36-year-old brain is damaged, that is ‘down on volume’ at the front and side part of my brain," Graham said.

“As my neurologist, Dr ­Rowena Mobbs, explained, my frontal lobe and the parietal (the side part behind the frontal lobe) were all down on volume for a man my age. ‘Mildly so,’ Dr Mobbs tells me, but enough to say it’s ‘significant’.”

Graham also joined the panel of ABC program The Drum to discuss his podcast, with host Dan Bourchier struck by what the Englishman had described.

“That was utterly chilling to watch and hear," he said.

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