Graham Blitz Earns Rare Record
In just his second game in the green and gold, there can be little doubt that last night in the nation's capital belonged to Wade Graham.
The 26-year-old's path to the international stage has not been an easy one - an ASADA scandal put a halt to his career in 2014 and his Origin debut was delayed last season by the judiciary - but one of the most damaging and creative second-rowers in the game more than justified his selection at Canberra Stadium. In a Man-of-the-Match performance, Graham scored four tries, landing him in elite company and demanding praise from Rugby League fans worldwide.
It was just the eighth time a Kangaroo has completed a quartet of tries - the first since the 2000 Rugby League World Cup - and Graham now shares the record with some legendary Rugby League names.
"That's something I've never dreamed of," Graham told NSW True Blue Brett Kimmorley on Channel 7. "Playing for Australia in the first place but to be able to score four tries... (I'm) blown away."
In the Kangaroos' 52-6 drubbing of France, it would be easy to downplay the significance of Graham's feat against a relatively weaker opposition. The French put up a fight for much of the game, however, keeping pace with the home side for most of the first half, when Graham notched up a quick-fire hat-trick.
If the four-try haul wasn't enough to impress onlookers, it's the second time a Canberra crowd has witnessed Graham go on a try-scoring blitz this season; having scored a hat-trick against the Raiders in Round 2, he now has seven tries in two visits to the nation's capital. That's the best current try-scoring record of any NRL player at a single venue.
"I wish I could explain it mate!" Graham adds. "Obviously (I'm) stoked with how the team went and to be able to get across the tryline is just a bonus.
"I think it's a work in progress still. We're trying to improve each game and we certainly took some steps today, but there's a few more areas we can fix up. No doubt in the week we'll look at those and get to it."
The Rugby League World Cup's new leading tryscorer will hope to have secured a place in Mal Meninga's side for next week, when Australia takes on Lebanon from 8pm AEDT on Saturday at the Sydney Football Stadium.