DRAGONS enforcer James Graham has jumped to the defence of good mate Adam Elliott after the Bulldogs back-rower became the unwitting face of Canterbury's Mad Monday scandal.
Widely regarded as one of the game's good guys, Elliott found himself at the centre of the media storm after News Corp published images of him dancing, sans clothes, on a table at The Rocks on Monday.
It was one of a number of images of Bulldogs players that prompted NRL CEO Todd Greenberg to slap the club with a $250,000 fine on Thursday.
Elliott was also fined $25,000 by the club, with images of the private function, captured by telephoto lens, putting him front and centre of the fallout.
Close from their time spent together at Belmore, Graham emphatically backed his former teammate Elliott on Thursday, hitting out at the “outrage culture” in some sections of he media.
“Adam Elliott's a really good friend of mine and it hurts me to see him get put through this,” Graham said.
“The past few days really don't define who he is. The guy does so much for the community. The stuff he does for his brother [who has autism], the stuff he does in the greater community… it’s better than what I've done.
“You could argue he [was] over-indulging. It was a private function. I'm not a fan of the outrage culture, I'm not a fan of the telephoto lens’ and I'm not a fan of some of the cheap media that's been around it.
“People need to be careful about what they want and where this sport's going. We talk about having access to players for media and for fans… do you think this is going to help?
“I really feel for Adam at the moment. When we were training together we were really close and he's still someone I regard as a really close friend.”
The Dragons have been in the midst of heavy media scrutiny of their own heading into Sunday's elimination final against Brisbane, with club's own fans turning up the heat following a 38-0 loss to the Bulldogs in round 24.
A a post-match blow-up between Graham and fullback Matt Dufty grabbed it's own share of headlines, but the hard-nosed Englishman says his side unfazed by the noise.
“The frustrating thing is that people talk about it,” Graham said.
“Me and Duft have a really good relationship and, like most people, if things get heated it means there's passion. If there's not confrontation in most personal relationships than you have the wrong relationship with friends.
“It's OK to disagree with people, there was no need to patch anything up. We just had a little bit of a difference of thought on a few things and before we left the change room we were hugging each other.
“For us we just try and block out the outside noise. There's papers to fill and TV channels to fill and online things and all that sort of stuff.
“You take everyone's opinion outside of ours with a grain of salt or just ignore it and don't look at it.”
The Dragons found part of their best against the Knights last week and Graham is quietly confident his side can cause a week on upset against the Broncos.
“You only need one good win or one bad loss and a week's a hell of a long time in sport,” Graham said.
“It's clear to see that Brisbane will be heavy favourites. They've hit some good form recently, they've had some good results, they're playing pretty well, they're at home.
"Based on what I know, a few things I'll keep to myself, I know our potential. I think the added thing of their potentially being no tomorrow, or no next week, is only going to push this group further.”