'One of those 'pinch me' moments!' Mark Graham moved to become first Kiwi in NRL Hall of Fame

He's one of rugby league's greats and now Mark Graham has received an honour no other Kiwi has - being inducted into the NRL's Hall of Fame.

And while he's the first, Graham's picking he won't be the last.

The jacket may've taken a couple of tries to put on at last night’s ceremony but few would argue it sits well on one of the toughest second rowers in the game's history.

However, the 62-year-old admits it’s still a surreal feeling.

"It was one of those 'pinch me' moments," he said.

"You think, 'wow, is this actually happening?'"

The honour adds to a long list of accolades for Graham who was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 2007 was named New Zealand Rugby League's player of the century.

Graham says there’s a few Kiwis from this century that will likely join him in the NRL Hall of Fame soon enough.

"There’s numerous, obviously Ruben (Wiki) and Stacey Jones, Stephen Kearney, there’s any number of them,” he said.

"I'm very fortunate to be the first but there's going to be many more for sure."

The proud 29-Test Kiwi says there could be a trip to the screen in the near future to capture the tale of boy who rose from tough beginnings in Auckland's Otahuhu to conquer the rugby league world.

"My son’s a filmmaker so he’s trying to make a documentary about the life and times of me," he said.

"I think it’s a good thing!"

Graham expects more Kiwis to join him soon enough. Source: 1 NEWS



'I have not sexted anyone' declares Sam Burgess amid Rabbitohs scandal

South Sydney star Sam Burgess has hired celebrity lawyer Chris Murphy to pursue defamation actions after being cleared of any wrongdoing over the lewd photo scandal.

The Rabbitohs said no player had broken club or NRL rules after a complaint was made by a woman alleging Rabbitohs players exposed themselves to her via Facebook in May.

Not long after the NRL club released their statement, Burgess revealed on Twitter that he is now exploring legal avenues over the saga.

"I have not sexted anyone. I fully cooperated with the inquiry as I said I would. I have engaged lawyer Chris Murphy to pursue my remedies and he has retained defamation lawyers," he said.

"I have given a full account to the Inquiry and answered every questioned asked. It's now in Mr Murphy's hands. The next move is up to him. I have nothing more to say at this stage."

The woman, who was believed to be on holiday in South Africa, was this week interviewed by NRL integrity unit investigator Karyn Murphy but declined to be quizzed by a five-person panel.

"Based on a thorough review of the available evidence before it, the panel was not satisfied that any South Sydney player engaged in any actionable misconduct resulting in a breach of their NRL playing contract, the NRL rules or the SSFC code of conduct," the club said in a statement.

A spokesman for the NRL said based on the information available, the NRL was satisfied with the position the panel has reached with respect to the allegations against players.

"If any additional information emerges it will be considered," the spokesman said.

It was widely reported it was Burgess' social media account that was used to communicate with the woman following a win over the Warriors in Auckland.

Two players were believed to have exposed themselves to the woman, who complained to the club via an anonymous email over a period of three months between May and August.

The matter rocked the league last week when News Corp Australia published the images, and named Burgess as the owner of the social media account.

It overshadowed the Rabbitohs' semi-final win over St George Illawarra, and has since dominated headlines ahead of their grand final qualifier against the Sydney Roosters on Saturday.

An emotional Burgess also fronted the media this week, where he thanked his wife and family for their support and said he was "happy for the truth to come out".

The panel comprised ARL Commissioner Lea Drake, club chairman Nick Pappas, club staffer Emily Grant, chief executive Blake Solly, and Murphy.

Murphy has previously represented former NRL Canterbury star Hazem El Masri when charges of domestic charges against him were dropped in 2016.

He is also currently representing Australian actor John Jarratt, who has been charged with raping a woman over 40 years ago.

Sam Burgess takes on Sonny Bill Williams
Roosters v Rabbitohs. NRL rugby league match. Allianz Stadium SFS, Sydney Australia. Thursday 7 March 2013. Photo: Paul Seiser/PHOTOSPORT
Sam Burgess takes on Sonny Bill Williams. Source: Photosport


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Tonga coach backing Andrew Fifita for Test match captaincy

Andrew Fifita has emerged as a shock Tonga captaincy contender after skipper Sika Manu was ruled out of next month's historic rugby league Test against Australia with a knee injury.

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf is reeling after Manu suffered the season-ending injury in Hull FC's UK Super League last-round loss to St Helens just days after naming his initial 29-strong Test squad.

"That's devastating for the team. He's an integral part of the side, we will certainly miss him," Woolf told AAP.

"Now we have to look at someone filling that void."

North Queensland's Jason Taumalolo and Canterbury livewire Will Hopoate appeared favourites as fill-in skippers for Tonga's first clash against Australia after sharing the captaincy in Manu's absence in June's Pacific Test.

But Woolf believed Fifita had shown this year he could step up and lead the Mate Ma'a in the October 20 clash in Auckland.

"We have emerging leaders in the group like Jason Taumalolo and Will Hopoate but there are a number of guys who have real leadership potential like Andrew Fifita," Woolf said.

"He has certainly shown some leadership at the Sharks this year but it will come down to who we think is best suited."

Fifita has filled in as Cronulla skipper this year but appeared an unlikely Tonga captaincy choice after last month's post-try blow-up at the Sharks coach's box and a recent foul-mouthed podcast appearance.

However, Woolf said Fifita had become a spiritual leader for Tonga after inspiring others with his surprise 2017 World Cup switch from the Kangaroos to the Mate Ma'a.

Taumalolo followed his lead, switching from New Zealand, before Tonga made a dream run to the Cup semi-finals.

Woolf said it was inspiring for the team that Fifita and Taumalolo had committed to Tonga "for the long haul".

"They have made a massive impact, that is obvious to see," he said.

"It speaks volumes of those blokes as people the way they have taken a punt and made a sacrifice, and also the way people have wanted to be involved because of them.

"They are committed to Tonga and set for the long haul.

"Any success we have they can be proud of the contribution they have made."

Scott Sorensen - nephew of Kiwi greats Dane and Kurt Sorensen - is Tonga's latest convert after the Cronulla forward was named in the extended squad.

Woolf will name his final squad next month before taking Tonga on a 10-day camp.

Tonga's Andrew Fifita and Tevita Pangai Junior celebrate Rugby League World Cup win over the Kiwis at FMG Stadium in Hamilton. Kiwis v Tonga, Rugby League World Cup, FMG Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand. Saturday, 11 November, 2017. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz
Tonga's Andrew Fifita and Tevita Pangai Junior celebrate Rugby League World Cup win over the Kiwis at FMG Stadium in Hamilton. Source: Photosport


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Sam Burgess cleared of wrongdoing in Rabbitohs sexting scandal

South Sydney star Sam Burgess has been cleared of any wrongdoing over the lewd photo scandal after the NRL club completed its investigations.

The club said no player had broken club or NRL rules after a complaint was made by a woman alleging Rabbitohs players exposed themselves to her on Facebook in May.

The woman was interviewed by NRL integrity unit investigator Karyn Murphy but declined to be quizzed by a five-person panel set up by the club last Friday.

"Based on a thorough review of the available evidence before it, the panel was not satisfied that any South Sydney player engaged in any actionable misconduct resulting in a breach of their NRL playing contract, the NRL rules or the SSFC code of conduct," the club said in a statement.

A spokesman for the NRL said that, based on the information available, the NRL was satisfied with the position the panel has reached with respect to the allegations against players.

"If any additional information emerges it will be considered," the spokesman said.

It was widely reported that it was Burgess' social media account that was used to communicate with the woman.

Two players were believed to have exposed themselves to the woman, who complained to the club via an anonymous email over a period of three months between May and August.

The matter rocked the league last week when News Corp Australia published the images, and named Burgess as the owner of the social media account.

The incident overshadowed the Rabbitohs' semi-final win over St George Illawarra, and dominated headlines ahead of Saturday's grand final qualifier against the Sydney Roosters.

An emotional Burgess also fronted the media this week, where he thanked his wife and family for their support and said he was "happy for the truth to come out".

The panel included ARL Commissioner Lea Drake, club chairman Nick Pappas, club staffer Emily Grant, chief executive Blake Solly, and Murphy.

Sam Burgess of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Source: Photosport


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