James Graham was a firebrand on the field and the former Bulldogs skipper has pulled no punches when it comes to the crisis at Canterbury, locking horns with veteran journalist Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield in a stunning clash on TV.
The ex-England representative star and NRL grand finalist took aim at former Bulldogs player Andrew Davey, lashing him for his comments on Canterbury culture and coach Cameron Ciraldo in the wake of revelations a player left the club after being forced to wrestle teammates as punishment for being late to training.
‘It wasn’t a culture that I fitted in with and it wasn’t the style of coaching that I resonated with,’ Davey said.
Graham fired back at those comments on Triple M.
‘Andrew Davey came to the club thinking he was going to play every week and he got outworked by a 21-year-old called Jacob Preston, and he embarrassed him,’ he said.
‘That’s why Andrew Davey isn’t happy, because he came under the pretense of, ‘I’m going to play every week’, and a 21-year-old put him in his place and he couldn’t get in the team. So he kicks his toys and p***es off to Parramatta.
‘Unlucky mate. You didn’t like it cause you weren’t getting picked and a 21-year-old Jacob Preston …. has shoved it up your a**e, see ya later!’
Former Bulldogs skipper James Graham (right) clashed with veteran journalist Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield (left) on NRL 360
Andrew Davey was at the centre of the debate after he criticised the Bulldogs in the wake of revelations a player left the club after being forced to wrestle teammates as punishment
Graham appeared on NRL 360 to back up his comments, confronting Rothfield over his article on Davey’s comments.
Rothfield opened the proceedings, expressing concerns over the mental health of Davey after the attack by Graham – but the former Bulldog was quick to bite back.
‘Can I interject there on the mental health issue, as a sufferer from depression and anxiety. I’ve been medicated for it for two years,’ Graham said.
‘I don’t expect any special treatment, I don’t expect a free pass and I’m not immune from criticism either and I don’t expect a pass for not living up to standards because I have those issues.’
Rothfield continued by saying that Graham’s spray on Davey would make players more reluctant to talk in the future.
‘What worried me about you Jimmy was, when we’re trying to find out the process of what forced a player to leave … we need to talk to people,’ Rothfield said.
‘And this guy spoke honestly and openly. What you did Jimmy, with respect, you belted him on radio yesterday. It was just a good old spray.
‘Now what worries me about that is, we should be encouraging people to speak up in moments like this.
‘The next kid who might have an issue at a club is going to think, “S**t, I’m not going to talk”.’
Rothfield argued that lashing Davey would cause other players to avoid speaking up in future
Graham said Davey had not been truthful and left the club because he lost his spot to Jacob Preston
But Graham was not backing down.
‘The fact of the matter is Andrew Davey came to that football club … everything I said I stand behind it, because it is the truth,’ he said.
Rothfield interjected: ‘Sure … p*** on Andrew Davey.’
‘He’s got his perception of what happened and he’s entitled to express, before yesterday if anybody had asked me about him and why he left I would have replied with I don’t know,’ Graham said.
‘But because he’s put his name to this and he’s put his name in the paper and said it, he’s then opening himself up for criticism.
‘He left because he came to the club assuming he was going to be a walk-up starter.’
Rothfield fired back: ‘How do you know that? How do you know he didn’t go there to try and earn his position?’
Graham replied: ‘Because I worked there and I speak to people at the club.
‘I know he came to the club thinking, assuming he was going to be a walk-up starter.
‘Yes he’d have to do some work but he thought him and [fellow recruit Viliame] Kikau would be partnerships in the back row.’
‘The reason (Davey) left is because he wasn’t getting picked. If he wasn’t getting picked it’s because a 21-year-old outworked him and then embarrassed him.
‘He didn’t like it because he wasn’t getting picked. He didn’t like it because he thought he was going to get picked, that’s why he left.’
‘He didn’t say that to me, he said he didn’t like the coaching,’ Rothfield responded.
Graham responded: ‘Because that’s the truth. He’s not going to tell you the truth and blame himself.’