For a bloke who was talented enough to debut as a schoolboy and this weekend racks up his 100th NRL game at just 22, Campbell Graham is about as unassuming and understated as they come.
Plucked from his HSC trial exams by Souths coach Michael Maguire to tackle the Dragons just nine weeks after his 18th birthday in 2017, Graham more than held his own with 119 running metres and five tackle breaks in a 26-24 win.
Come season’s end the teenager from Marcellin College in Randwick had played five games on the bounce, sung the team song twice more and served notice he belonged on the big stage.
Whether it be at wing or centre, in attack or defence, Graham’s full throttle approach has made him a favourite with the Rabbitohs faithful, many of whom will be on hand at Suncorp Stadium to see him rack up the century in Magic Round.
“It’s a huge honour and I’ve loved every game that I’ve played here,” Graham said as he prepared to head to Brisbane.
Warriors v Rabbitohs
“I knew last year's grand final was my 90th game so I knew if I was fit and I played every game I’d be coming up to 100 around this time.
“I have taken immense pride in representing Souths in every one of those games.”
If Graham is to celebrate his milestone in style then much will revolve around new captain Cody Walker, who takes charge in the absence of the injured Cameron Murray.
Debate has swirled in recent weeks over Walker’s form and also his on-field aggression but Graham is adamant the gun No.6 will stand up when his team needs him most.
“Cody is just passionate about footy, there’s nothing personal with anyone, it’s just how he shows his emotion on the field,” said Graham.
“I like that aspect of his game. His aggression can make players around him better.
“It’s just him wanting us to succeed and do our job and that’s where the frustration comes from.
“Cody is one of the most encouraging and influential players I’ve ever played or trained with. He’s got so much time for everyone else and all he is focused on is making the team better and making the players around him better.
“He loves sharing his knowledge with his team-mates, especially the younger boys. All the passion you see from Cody is wanting to succeed.”
After losing just four games in the 2021 regular season and making it to their first grand final since 2014, the Rabbitohs have already tasted defeat five times this year as they adjust to life without Adam Reynolds and Wayne Bennett.
Two shock losses to the Broncos and a one-point defeat at the hands of Wests Tigers have been offset by impressive wins over the Roosters and Sea Eagles but the sparkling attack that ripped holes in opposition defensive lines last year has stalled.
The Bunnies’ output has dropped from 32 points per game in 2021 to 21 this year but Graham says confidence remains high that they can get on a roll even without Murray and superstar fullback Latrell Mitchell, who is expected to miss at least another month.
Graham hits back for the Bunnies
“The energy is still high and everyone is positive, especially JD (coach Jason Demetriou). The key is not to get frustrated,” he said.
“It’s tough to nail down to one or two things that are going wrong but a big theme for us is ball control. We left two or three tries out there against Brisbane so execution was a bit of an issue.
“Patience is the key at the moment and trusting that we’re not too far off.”