Wade Graham is pushing for a spot in Kangaroos team for the first clash against England in the World Cup.
Wade Graham is pushing for a spot in Kangaroos team for the first clash against England in the World Cup. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

Graham puts name up in lights for Kangaroos

WADE Graham's versatility has put him on the verge of a Test debut with the Kangaroos.

Graham wore the Australian jersey for the first time when he started from the bench in the World Cup hitouts against Fiji and PNG.

He made an immediate impact when he took his place in the back-row and then spent the bulk of the second game against Fiji at five-eighth.

His value as a utility player has him primed to win a bench spot for the Kangaroos' opening clash against England on October 27.

Graham's inclusion hinges on who wears the No.6 jersey.

Michael Morgan is a certainty to be picked in the 17, but if he starts at five-eighth it opens the door for Graham to be named on the interchange bench.

James Maloney, Ben Hunt and Cameron Munster are other bench utility options.

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said Graham's performance on Saturday night had put the "pressure on".

"He was excellent," Meninga said. "We were going to put him at nine but we decided to rest the Melbourne guys, who didn't get much game time.

"Wade played some good minutes. He played left edge, can play five-eighth. I have no doubt he can play at centre."

Graham, 26, knows his best shot of cracking a Kangaroos spot is as a utility off the bench.

"The one to 13 almost picks itself," Graham said.

"(The utility spot) is probably the role I'll play for. I'm happy to do that. Whatever Mal needs me to do, I'll do.

"Touch wood we have Cameron (Smith) there, who will play the majority of the game.

"But if we need someone (to play hooker), I'll put my hand up.

"I couldn't ask for a better start for a career at this level. I was very excited (to be picked in the squad).

"The last couple of weeks after being selected I've just wanted to play."

Graham turned back time with his performance at five-eighth.

He laid on a beautiful try to Josh Dugan with a bullet cut-out pass which allowed his future Cronulla teammate to get on the outside of the Fijian defence.

"I wound back the clock," Graham said. "Some of the way I play in the back-row at Cronulla is not a traditional back-row role.

"I do a fair bit of ball playing and a bit of kicking. It's not as if I've thrown that part of my game completely in.

"I've been grateful to experience Origin and a grand final. This is the last thing and it will be a dream come true."

News Corp Australia

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