FRIDAY night was the end of an era with James Graham signing off a stellar rugby league career with a Grand Final win.

It could not have happened in a better way for the Scouse Saint, who learned his craft at the St Helens Crusaders and Blackbrook Royals before forcing his way into a Saints pack not short of front row talent.

St Helens Star:

Although Jammer was handed his debut by Ian Millward, his career really took off under Daniel Anderson from 2005 onwards.

Once he had got that big break as a 20-year-old, there was no stepping back into the lower grade - and he became an invaluable member of that 2006 Grand Slam winning team.

His consistently energetic, aggressive and high quality displays kept an international like Nick Fozzard out of the 17 for the big finals that year.....and he just got better and better, becoming a leader in a team that began to break up.

As that ‘awesome foursome’ became depleted with Paul Anderson retiring and Jason Cayless suffering repeated injuries, Graham increasingly carried the pack - even more so in 2011 after Keiron Cunningham’s retirement.

St Helens Star:

That year on the road in Widnes, Graham shared the armband with Paul Wellens for a tough campaign - one in which they were 20 minutes away from being crowned champions.

But then the game against Leeds cruelly unravelled.

That was Saints’ fifth consecutive Grand Final defeat - and how heartbreaking that was.

Alas, Jammer bowed out that day and headed Down Under to join Canterbury.

He left a huge void in the Saints pack for years.

St Helens Star:

But if the Covid pandemic has provided one silver lining it is the fact that Luke Thompson’s early departure allowed Jammer to return and pen his own happy ending to the story of a modern rugby league great.