Gary Graham hopes to emulate father’s feat with Newcastle

Gary Graham in action for Newcastle Falcons. Picture: Getty Images
Gary Graham in action for Newcastle Falcons. Picture: Getty Images
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Gary Graham will attempt to follow in his father’s footsteps when he faces the might of the Exeter Chiefs in tomorrow’s Aviva Premiership semi-final.

The Newcastle flanker and his team-mates may be the surprise package in the end-of-season shootout, but it is not entirely unfamiliar territory for the club.

Twenty years ago, the 
Falcons lifted the title with Scotland international prop George Graham among their ranks, and his 25-year-old son is desperate to emulate that achievement.

Asked how much of an influence his father has been on his career, Stirling-born Graham said: “He’s been massive.

“He always watches my games – and heavily criticises what I have done wrong – but that’s good for my work-ons.

“Obviously he won it 20 years ago. I’m here now – I’d like to say we could do it again with me carrying on the name.”

The competitiveness that George Graham has drummed into his sons – Gary’s younger brother Guy is also on the books at Kingston Park – has served them well. And it is something that extends far beyond the rugby pitch.

Gary said: “The game has changed massively from when he was playing, but the fundamentals haven’t, the work 
ethic, the mindset, all those types of things. He’s built them into us from when we were young lads, me and my brothers, and that is probably what has helped me the most.

“Every time we go back to the house, it doesn’t matter what it is, we’re all super, super-competitive. If there’s a can of pop left and it’s a fight to get the last one, then I’m sure we all will. My whole family is massively competitive. We all play rugby at different ages and different levels, but one thing that you will find with the Grahams is that we’re super-competitive.”

Newcastle will need every ounce of the competitive spirit they possess if they are to upset the odds at Sandy Park and make it to Twickenham.

However, their surge to a top-four finish, which has included a home victory over the Chiefs and a series of last-gasp wins, means they will relish being cast in the role of underdogs.

Graham said: “A hundred per cent – that’s the best way to go into a game. All the pressure is on them. We have beaten them once this season, why can’t we do it again?

“We’re a top-four team now and we’re competing with them all the time, we are beating top-four teams all the time. It’s nothing different when we go down there.”

Victory would cap a remarkable season for former Scotland Under-20 international Graham, who 12 months ago was playing Championship rugby for Jersey Reds, but has since established himself as a Premiership regular, a feat which has brought recognition at senior international level with England. He said: “I still pinch myself now, but it’s been a hell of a season. I couldn’t really have asked for any more.”