Impressive Rabbitohs teenager Cambell Graham says he is feeling no ill-effects from a spectacular and dangerous challenge from Dragons prop Jeremy Latimore that upended him and left him lying stunned on the ANZ Stadium turf on Saturday night.
After taking some time to collect himself, Graham was able to finish the game as his side knocked the Dragons out of the 2018 Telstra Premiership finals with a thrilling 13-12 win to book a huge preliminary final meeting with the Roosters next Saturday.
Latimore picked up a grade one dangerous contact charge after running into the legs of an airborne Graham as the winger marked a Dragons high kick only to be flipped in the air and land on his back, though Latimore will avoid starting next season with a suspension by taking an early plea.
"To be honest it all happened so quick, I couldn't really comprehend what was happening," Graham told NRL.com on Monday.
"I remember landing and my first thought was just to make sure my neck and head were all right and fortunately for me I landed as best I could in that position.
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"My back and shoulders sort of took the brunt of the fall. I'm sure there was no intention from Latimore, he sort of just braced himself for contact and unfortunately for me I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It probably looked a lot worse than it actually was.
"I've got nothing against Jeremy Latimore, it was just one of those things in the heat of the game. He's in the washing machine in the middle, the ball goes up and we're both competing for it. For myself, I could work on getting myself in a better body position to brace for those collisions."
Graham admitted to being a little bit rattled by the hit but said he was neither dazed nor winded.
"It was scary, I didn't know which way was up and then I sort of landed and it took me a couple of seconds to gauge what happened. Once I knew my head was clear and I didn't have any injury it was play on," he added.
The incident was memorable for the immediate concern shown for Graham by Dragons rival and fellow teenage sensation Zac Lomax – though it is hardly surprising given just how much the two played together coming through the ranks.
"I've played in a few rep teams with Lomax now," Graham said.
"We first played in the same team when we were 15 for the CCC schoolboys team, then played 16s Origin together.
"When we were 17 we played Australian Schoolboys together and when we were 18 we were both lucky enough to co-captain that side together so I know Zac quite well.
"He's a great fella and it doesn't surprise me that he came over and checked up on me. It's just the type of character he is. He's had a real strong season at the back end getting his crack in first grade."
Graham is a graduate of famed rugby league nursery Marcellin College at Randwick, which produced current teammates John Sutton and Jason Clark along with the likes of Braith Anasta and ex-Rabbitohs Shannan McPherson, Joe Williams and Eddy Pettybourne.
Having come all the way through the Souths junior system from his junior days at the Coogee Wombats to the Rabbitohs Jersey Flegg and underage sides, he knows all about the rivalry against the Roosters, though incredibly this will be his first top grade clash against them.
As a young face in the crowd when the Bunnies beat the Roosters in their previous preliminary final meeting in 2014, Graham at least has some idea what sort of atmosphere to expect.
"I was at that game, the prelim against the Roosters in 2014," Graham said.
"I remember the atmosphere, the feeling between the two clubs. Being a local boy I definitely understand the rivalry the two clubs have.
"Half my mates were in my ear about the Roosters and the other half were supporting me with Souths!
"I definitely understand the feeling between the two clubs. I haven't played the Roosters yet in first grade but I can't wait to. It's going to be an outstanding atmosphere at Allianz Stadium, a local venue and I can't wait to rip in.
"It's a huge game for both clubs, a prelim final, I'm sure both teams are going to leave it all out there."
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