St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor is confident James Graham will give an “all-in” performance for the Dragons in Saturday’s NRL match against Gold Coast.
The Dragons confirmed on Thursday they had been approached by Graham about returning to the English Super League this year to join St Helens.
Despite the 34-year-old’s eagerness to leave the NRL, McGregor says he has no fears about the Englishman’s commitment to the Red V.
“He’s all in. Conversation I had with James is pretty simple that he wants to finish his career where he started back at St. Helens and he’s got the remainder of the year to do that,” McGregor said.
“James has requested the release and the rest has already been said … certainly I know what James will give us on the football field and that’ll be an all-in performance.”
McGregor doesn’t know if Saturday’s game will be the final appearance for Graham in a Dragons jersey, with Canterbury’s move to sign Luke Thompson opening a door for him to return to the English Super League club he played 224 games for before moving to the NRL.
The Dragons coach is also uncertain about who will replace Graham, with his departure as well as the pending exit of Tyson Frizell meaning the club will have close to $1 million available to shake up their forward pack next season.
McGregor said he was yet to speak to Jack de Belin about his own future with his $600,000 deal set to expire at season’s end.
De Belin’s case is back in court on Monday for legal argument after the stood-down star pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault.
McGregor says his focus has been on supporting the 29-year-old during his court case with his playing future not an immediate priority.
Despite having not played since the end of 2018, McGregor says de Belin will be ready to go as soon as he’s cleared to return to NRL action.
“The excitement is Jack gets an opportunity to defend himself in court and he hasn’t had that,” McGregor said.
“He’s one of our fittest players in the club.
“He was a standout player in his position before he got stood down and he trains as good as anyone else in the squad, so he’s ready to go.”