NRL great James Graham unloads on ‘parasite’ commentator Peter FitzSimons

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Bulldogs legend James Graham has turned a flamethrower on former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons.

The NRL great this week unloaded on the outspoken columnist, describing the sport commentator as a “parasite”.

The pair have repeatedly traded barbs in public over the NRL’s divisive concussion protocols since Graham revealed the alarming toll the sport has had on him.

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Graham, who played 423 between the UK Super League and NRL as well as a further 53 games in international football, revealed in 2022 he had 18,000 hits in his career and 100 concussions.

FitzSimons at the time challenged Graham’s stance on the issue during a public Concussion Legacy Foundation forum event they both attended.

Legend tears 'parasite' journo to shreds

Graham said afterwards he was “astonished” that FitzSimons attempted to make the discussion “about me and him”.

Graham’s issues with FitzSimons making public comments about concussed NRL players have exploded again after the 62-year-old’s weekend column about Roosters captain James Tedesco.

The star fullback was knocked unconscious after he got his head into the wrong position as he attempted to tackle a rampaging Viliame Kikau during the Bulldogs’ upset win over the Chooks in Round 5.

There was plenty of concern for Tedesco, as he was assessed by doctors on the field.

He was immediately ruled out of the match, but was able to walk to the change rooms.

FitzSimons wrote about Tedesco’s track record of multiple concussions in his Sunday newspaper column and suggested the NSW State of Origin captain should retire immediately.

“James Tedesco, can I have a quiet word,” FitzSimons wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’ve met only once — not that I expect you to remember — but I have watched you for years and know you are a great player. I know one of the defining features of great players is the belief they are bulletproof. But, mate, you need to think about this very, very carefully.”

He went on to write: “Mate, is there no chance that you will choose to break the pattern early, give your brain the respite it no doubt desperately needs, and call it a day?

“You’ve done enough, Digger. Rest.”

The column has clearly incensed Graham, who announced FitzSimons as the “Idiot of the Week” on his James Graham’s The Bye Round podcast released on Thursday morning.

“I’ve had a couple run-ins with this person in the past. It’s Peter FitzSimons,” Graham said.

The 38-year-old went on to say: “It really struck a nerve. I know – and Peter mentions in the article about how this will draw flak from the usual suspects – it’s drawn flak from me because it’s the behaviour of a parasite.

“Nothing less than the behaviour of a parasite. Now for those that don’t know what a parasite means, it needs a host to stay alive. And this type of behaviour is using our game and the very serious nature of concussion in order to stay relevant or alive.

“That’s what a parasite would do.”

Graham also slammed FitzSimons for comments that he says would have troubled Tedesco’s loved ones.

“He also says ‘I am someone with no medical expertise’,” Graham said of FitzSimons’ article.

“You got that part right. You got that part spot on. You know when you write this that James’ loved ones — his wife, his mum, dad, extended family and friends — would all read this and it does nothing helpful other than stir up unnecessary anxiety and stress.

“You’re making the situation worse. He knows the complexities and weight and delicate nature of such a decision and you are calling for him to retire.

“How dare you do that? He is saying it is going to draw flak. Well you have your reaction. I am calling it out for what it is.

“It has hit a nerve and it has really frustrated me because it is just something that shouldn’t be going on — and he needs to be called out for it as well.”

FitzSimons has long called out concussion issues in contact sports, including calling for the retirements of the likes of Boyd Cordner in 2020 and more recently Luke Keary, who is still playing for the Roosters despite long stretches out of the game after head injuries.

Cordner retired at 29 as a result of his concussion issues.

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