James Graham backs Oliver Gildart to repeat debut heroics ahead of second test
James Graham insists match-winner Oliver Gildart will not get carried away with his debut heroics.
Wigan centre Gildart scored a stunning second half try that proved decisive in England’s opening test win over New Zealand in Hull.
But Graham – who wears the captain’s armband at Anfield on Sunday in the absence of the injured Sean O’Loughlin – says the youngest member of Wayne Bennett’s squad has kept his feet on the ground.
Graham said: “He’s a pretty quiet lad and he’s not letting it get to his head.
“That will live with him forever that try, but does he want to be the kind of guy that has one or two caps and one bit of magic?
“Or does he want to be the guy that holds the centre spot down for the next decade?
“I’m pretty confident it’s the latter.”
Graham does though believe that the crucial second test could again come down to one moment of individual brilliance to split two well matched sides.
He said: “There’s a win next to our name from last week, but make no mistake, New Zealand played well.
“We have to play well in order to get the win.
“I’m imaging the Kiwis are going to be better than they were last weekend, and we’ll have to go up again.
“Whether it comes down to a moment of magic or a piece of skill, or great defence, we’ll see.
“Most tight games of rugby league do come down to that so this weekend should be no different.
“As far as we’re concerned, if we perform close to our best then we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to win the game."
Maghull-born Graham leads his country out in Liverpool as a lifelong Everton fan, and caused social media amusement in midweek with a deadpan “no” response to whether he dreamt of captaining a team at Anfield.
But he hopes the staging of the game on Merseyside can attract new supporters to the sport.
Graham added: “Our product that we have – you look at how skilful it is, how tough, how competitive.
“There’s a fatigue factor in there, it’s physical, there’s a little bit of violence.
“For me as a sports fan, if you’re to marry all those things in together I’d want to see more of it.
“Hopefully we can expose our product to a new audience and they’ll want to keep watching it and go again.”
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