Souths Rookie Goes From The HSC To NRL
When Campbell Graham woke up on Friday morning, his biggest concern was deciding whether he should spend more time focusing on his PE or geography exams ahead of next week's HSC trials.
Instead, a midday phone call from Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire stopped him in his tracks, forcing him to put down his pen, switch off the laptop and hop on down to Moore Park to make his NRL debut on the wing.
"I made a phone call to him – I think he was studying for his HSC – and at about 11:30 I called him and said 'I'm calling you into first grade'. He nearly fell through the phone he was that excited," Maguire revealed after the game.
"Campbell has been in and around our senior players for quite a bit and I just felt that he was going to be the right man to do the job.
"Unfortunately Rob Jennings hurt his knee last night and we weren't quite sure whether or not he'd be able to play, so I made the call this morning and I thought for a young man to come in like that, it was outstanding.
"He's a great level-headed kid and he'll probably be back to the study books tomorrow!"
The 18-year-old debutant was anything but overawed by the situation, running for 104 metres on the hallowed SCG turf in front of plenty of mates who had come down to watch him play what turned out to be a thrilling 26-24 win over the Dragons.
A standout performer at centre in the NYC – he scored doubles in each of his last two games – Graham assumed he would play at Allianz Stadium this afternoon in a crunch game for the Bunnies in the Holden Cup.
The next few weeks are set to be hectic for the boom rookie who barely trained all week due to his studies and has been given leave by the club to focus on his exams.
"Madge called me and let me know there was a pretty likely chance that I'd be playing tonight. He said he'd have to let me know at 12 and I got a call at about midday and I'm very grateful to be given the opportunity," Graham said in the SCG Members Stand after the win.
"I only had the captain's run last night with the 20s because I was likely going to play with them today. The boys were really welcoming as soon as I got here. They made me feel comfortable and they talked out there helping me know what my role was so it was very good.
"The Club has put a big emphasis on making sure school comes first at the moment. I'm trying to take it week by week and if the opportunity arises again then I'll be more than happy to take it."