Graham gearing up in 2021
Posted: Wednesday 7th April 2021 - 2:00 PM
On the eve of the Betfred Super League starting, ROAR talked with Brad Graham, sponsored by CBR Engineering, as he reflects on his journey into the squad, making his debut, and who he looks to in the Tigers 2021 squad to model his own game upon.
This article is taken from April's edition of Castleford Tigers' monthly club magazine ROAR, which you can read for free at castlefordtigers.com/roar.
“It’s been a really good pre-season for me personally, my body is feeling a lot stronger, I’m in a better position than I was last year and I hope that’s showing on the training field with being faster, stronger and competing for a spot”
Although training with the squad during the 2020 season, this year represents Graham’s first full pre-season with the team, along with all the benefits that brings such as learning from experienced Super League players.
“It’s massive [pre-season] for someone like myself, who’s not a young, young pup as such, but someone who’s still coming through. I’m nearly 20 now and so it’s time to kick on really and getting to train with these boys is really important for me and it helps me strive to be the best that I can be.”
A long time Tiger, having come through the Club’s Scholarship and Academy sides, the 19-year old is in a great position to mentor some younger emerging talent in the squad, and it’s something he’s taken in his stride as he knows how big a help it can be.
“I’m a year or two ahead of some of the boys in the squad now in terms of my development, but any experience I’ve gained in my time, I’m of course going to try and pass on, because people have helped me in the same way and that was so, so big for me, so I’m going to be looking to bring them on as well as bring myself on in the group.”
After making his debut last season in a testing loss to Hull, he’ll be hoping to build on the opportunity he received and put his hat into the ring as an option on the edge for this season.
“Obviously I got to make my debut last year which I didn’t really expect to be honest! I got the chance to play and I did what I could do in the game - it was a tough game and tough debut to make: Hull FC away, us not in the best of form, but this year I’m really looking forward to getting my head down and being a better player and building that trust with the coaches so that if I can get that chance to play again, they are confident that I can do my job.”
Although having made his debut on the wing, Brad admits he’s at his happiest in the centres, which can be a challenging position, not least defensively, but he knows that there are two ideal role models close to home to help me develop his own style of play.
“Centre’s definitely my natural position. Of course, I don’t mind doing a job where I need to, in order to help the team, but I see myself and I think for my career it’s important for me to be nailing down a spot in the centre or back row somewhere."
"We’ve two great centres at the club already in Shenny (Michael Shenton) and Pete (Mata’utia) and they’ve been around for a good few years now they won’t mind me saying! I’ve watched them from being a young lad in the stands and now I’m getting that chance to play with them, it’s a big privilege."
"One of the differences between them and me at the minute is their understanding of the game, they’ve played at that top level for so long and it’s that understanding that I want to get into my own game to be able to solidify my slot in the squad. With time and the more you train there, and the more different shapes and patterns are thrown at you, then the more you’re likely to pick that up and process it.”
2021 will be a big year for many Tigers and Graham is no different, he hopes to kick on and secure his immediate future after this season whilst at the same time hoping to be a part of the Fords’ plans for the future.
“What would be a successful season for me? I think about the bigger picture: I’m out of contract at the end of 2021, so I’m really wanting to nail down a long term contract here, but as a player, I’m looking to develop my understanding of the game, get bigger and stronger as I’m still young, and looking at doing everything I can do to get in the team, week in, week out and I’m looking forward to doing that in 2021.”
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