MARK GRAHAM GETS NRL HALL OF FAME NOD

New Zealand Player of the Century and former Auckland Warriors coach Mark Graham has been named as one of six new inductees to the NRL Hall of Fame.

The tough, skilful Auckland back-rower played 29 Tests for New Zealand from 1977-88 – including 18 as skipper – and captained Rest of the World against Australia in 1988.

Graham won a BRL grand final with Norths Devils under long-time mentor Graham Lowe’s coaching in 1980, but it was a shift to the North Sydney Bears the following season that put him in the consciousness of the wider Australian rugby league public.

The Otahuhu Leopards played 146 games across eight seasons for the club, winning the Dally M Second-rower of the Year gong in 1981 and ’82, and captaining the Bears to their first finals series in 17 years in the latter campaign.

After lower-grade and assistant appointments at Manly, North Sydney and North Queensland, Graham spent the 1999-2000 seasons as head coach of the Warriors, a tumultuous period for the club.

He was named the NZRL Player of the Century in 2007 as part of the country’s rugby league Centenary celebrations.

The other players named were Manly icons Cliff Lyons and Steve Menzies, champion Brisbane forwards Petero Civoniceva and Gorden Tallis, and influential Canberra halfback Ricky Stuart.

Former Warriors and Kiwis legends Stacey Jones and Ruben Wiki were among the players on the 25-man shortlist who missed out.

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