Sign­ing Wil­liams is a great lift for our sport

Sonny Bill is ar­guably the big­gest name in ei­ther code – Toronto should be con­grat­u­lated

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport Rugby League - James Gra­ham was speak­ing on be­half of Da­cia, proud part­ners of the Great Bri­tain Rugby League Li­ons and the Eng­land na­tional teams JAMES GRA­HAM

Sonny Bill Wil­liams join­ing Toronto Wolf­pack has now been con­firmed and I can only ap­plaud a move I feel has so much po­ten­tial.

Last week, I paid trib­ute to one of our big­gest su­per­stars when Sam Burgess re­tired, and if rugby league can gain ar­guably the big­gest name in ei­ther code, then I can­not see any­thing but good for our game.

Toronto’s own­ers are mak­ing a big, but well-planned de­ci­sion and good on them – it is a huge coup for the Wolf­pack to get Sonny Bill in their in­au­gu­ral sea­son in Su­per League. Toronto are a great story in their own right and if you had told me eight years ago that a transat­lantic team would be play­ing in the top flight in 2020, I would have never be­lieved you.

But sport changes and who would have thought Brad­ford would go from world club cham­pi­ons to be­ing rel­e­gated and even­tu­ally liq­ui­dated?

The way sport changes fas­ci­nates me, so Toronto’s rise is some­thing to keep an eye on.

On Great Bri­tain mat­ters, it is our third match of the tour to­mor­row and will be the first time I have faced New Zealand in Christchur­ch. Last week’s game was in the bal­ance right un­til the end – we prob­a­bly could have ex­e­cuted bet­ter in at­tack but, as a group, we felt it was hard to fault the over­all per­for­mance.

In those type of games, the goal is al­ways to con­cede no more than two tries and keep the op­po­si­tion to un­der 16 points. There was much talk about the slow­ness of the ruck and, while we wanted to score more tries, we have not been helped by los­ing more bod­ies.

Ryan Hall got in­jured, but that is the na­ture of the game and a lot of lads are ver­sa­tile.

The game is about opin­ions and I am sure there are peo­ple back home who would have picked a dif­fer­ent Great Bri­tain squad. But Wayne Ben­nett is the coach for a rea­son and you have to back him – seven NRL Pre­mier­ships sug­gest he knows what he is do­ing.

We are look­ing for­ward to hope­fully pick­ing up a win be­fore the fi­nal Test in Pa­pua New Guinea. Be­ing on tour can be chal­leng­ing and en­joy­able too, but es­sen­tially we are here to do a job and win Tests.

On days off, some of the lads might go for a beer to­gether, play poker, give the Xbox and Plays­ta­tion a bit of ham­mer, or spend time with any fam­ily they have out here. Jonny Lo­max is do­ing a de­gree and get­ting a bit of ex­tra study in. There is never a dull mo­ment in camp and of­ten pranks get pulled. Josh Hodg­son lost his pass­port be­fore the flight to Christchur­ch, much to his panic, and I hold my hands up for that one. It was in re­sponse to Josh and Lach­lan Coote putting Tabasco sauce in my wa­ter... af­ter I had bought them lunch!

We have a What­sapp group which is al­ways in­ter­est­ing, but I do not do any so­cial me­dia.

When I was a kid I had a poem on my wall about look­ing at the man in the mir­ror. I would not want those views to be dis­torted by peo­ple who are en­ti­tled to an opin­ion as I have no wish to open my­self up to crit­i­cism.

In other big news, it has been an­nounced that Eng­land will play Aus­tralia in an Ashes series at Bolton, Leeds and Tot­ten­ham next year. There is talk of the Kan­ga­roos also play­ing some club sides while they are on tour and I think that would be fan­tas­tic.

For me, in­ter­na­tional rugby league is in the best shape it has been for a long time and the more qual­ity games we have, the bet­ter. It does not get any tougher than an Ashes series, but hope­fully we can sell out for all three games – and hope­fully I will be in­volved.

Big switch: Sonny Bill Wil­liams sits with his daugh­ter Imaan af­ter his fi­nal game for the All Blacks against Wales last week

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