Graham to notch up 100 for Cowboys
A DOSE of viral conjunctivitis i sn’t going t o stop A s h l e y G r a h a m f r o m celebrating his 100th game for the North Queensland Cowboys tonight.
Graham had just come back f rom a visit t o t he eye specialist when he spoke to media at Cowboys headquarters yesterday and insisted his infected eye felt better than it looked.
The 2 6 - year-ol d Cairnsborn player picked up the infection sometime last week along with teammates Glenn Hall and Willie Tonga.
‘‘ The old pink eye . . . it’s something that I’ll be trying not to pass around to too many p l a y e r s , ’ ’ Graham said.
‘‘ It won’t affect my performance at all, I guess I always wanted to play for the Cowboys as a young fella so to be able to play 100 games for the club is something that I’m really proud of.’’
Graham made his debut for the Cowboys in 2006 against Cronulla at Shark Park and has go on to become a highly prized asset.
Coach Neil Henry was glowing in his praise of Graham’s 80-minute showing against the Broncos last week, calling it perhaps the three-quarter’s best game for the club since Henry took over the coaching reins in 2009.
Graham covered 138 metres from 14 runs in team statistics bettered only by Matt Bowen.
‘‘ I guess he ( Henry) sees things I probably don’t see on the field, but for that to come from him is pretty important,’’ Graham said.
‘‘ It’s been a pretty long off season so to get out there and to put in a good performance was f ai r l y pl easing, but there’s definitely parts of ( my) game that I can improve and I’m really looking forward to doing that.’’
Graham gets his opportunity against a razor sharp Newcastle backline that inflicted heavy damage on the Penrith Panthers in a 42-8 blitz last week.
‘ ‘ They’ve defi nit el y got some powerful blokes in t h e i r b a c k l i n e , t h e y ’ r e dangerous on both sides of the field as well as up the middle,’’ Graham said.
‘‘ I think if we can limit t h e i r o p p o r t u n i t i e s a n d really get up in their face it’ll go a long way to winning the game for us.’’
On Graham’s mind in particular is the importance of shutting out Newcastle trys c o r i ng machine Akuila Uate, the man who wreaked much of the damage in last week’s Penrith demolition.
‘‘ He’s fast, he’s strong, he can step off both feet, so he’s definitely someone we’ve got to watch out for because he can really turn a game on its head,’’ Graham said.
The Cowboys failed to manage back-to-back wins in 2010 and Graham wants no repeat of that statistic this season.
‘‘ It’s definitely something that’s important for us, I mean the first home game of the year obviously we want to set a tone for the season making this a difficult place for teams to come,’’ he said.
‘‘ We want to build from last week, I think if we can string two together then that’ll get our season off to a really good start.’’
And while the 100-game milestone is a significant one for the Cairns Kangaroos junior, apparently Prince William thinks otherwise following news he won’t be appearing at Dairy Farmers Stadium for tonight’s match.
‘ ‘ S h u c k s , s h a t t e r e d , ’ ’ Graham said.