New venues great for rugby league - Graham


England prop James Graham is hopeful the selection of venues for the upcoming Four Nations will help rugby league to attract new fans.

The 13-man code is hugely popular in parts of northern England, with every Super League club bar the Perpignan-based Catalans Dragons situated relatively close to the M62 motorway connecting Liverpool to Hull.

However, rugby league has struggled to attract interest from outside its traditional heartlands, an issue Four Nations organisers are aiming to address over the coming weeks.

The London Stadium, which played host to a Test between England and New Zealand last year, and Coventry's Ricoh Arena will stage group matches before the tournament's final takes place at iconic football venue Anfield on November 20.

Speaking at the latter ground during the official Four Nations launch, Graham told Omnisport: "I think it's great. Obviously the game in this country is sort of limited to the corridor of the M62 and what not. I think this is a good opportunity for people who have maybe never experienced a game.

"The rugby league community will travel but I think it's good that we're sort of spreading the message of rugby league because it's a great game. You see it on telly and it's good, but to actually go and experience it live, I can only recommend it to people that have never seen a game live, get down there and go if it's in your area."

A fan of Liverpool's rivals Everton, Graham raised a wry smile when asked for his thoughts on potentially representing England at Anfield next month.

"Oh, look, to be fair, the final could be anywhere," said the 31-year-old.

"I wouldn't care whether it was Anfield, Goodison [Park, the home of Everton], anywhere in England. To be a part of the final, that's the goal. Where it takes place is not too important right now."

Graham, who captains Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL, suffered a head injury against France last weekend, but expects to be fit for England's Four Nations opener against New Zealand in Huddersfield on Saturday.

"I'm alright. Just a bit of a knock there on the weekend, but I'm ok and I feel alright so I feel I should pass the concussion test that I've got to take," he explained.