Darcy Graham set to make Scotland debut against Wales in Cardiff

Edinburgh form prompted elevation from outside status to match day squad

Darcy Graham - Scotland squad winger. Scotland training session, Oriam sports complex, Edinburgh, Scotland, Monday 29th October 2018. ***Please credit: ©Fotosport/David Gibson***

DARCY GRAHAM is set to debut for Scotland against Wales in Cardiff this Saturday, after being named on the bench for the ‘Doddie Weir Cup’ encounter by Gregor Townsend at lunchtime today, with the coach explaining that his recent form for Edinburgh has catapulted the 21-year-old from ‘training with the squad’ status to part of the match-day 23.

Graham came through the ranks in his native Hawick and was a star of the Scotland Under-20s team for two years, before joining Edinburgh on a full-time contract at the start of last season. At 5ft 8ins and just over 11½ stone, he is clearly not the biggest winger in the world, but what he lacks in bulk he more than makes up for in courage and explosiveness.

He spent most of last season recovering from a knee injury then bouncing between the domestic club game, national sevens set-up and the full Edinburgh squad (managing just four starts and two bench appearances for Richard Cockerill’s side), and then had to sit out pre-season ahead of the current campaign due to another injury. But after easing his way back to full match fitness with a couple of run-outs for Watsonians in the Tennent’s Premiership, Graham got was handed a starting spot for Edinburgh against Toyota Cheetahs at the start of October – scoring a try in that match and eliciting some gushing praise from Cockerill afterwards.

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He has carried on in that vein during subsequent matches against Montpellier and Toulon in the Champions Cup, and against Zebre in the PRO14 last weekend, which has driven this call-up.

“He has shown great form over the last three or four games,” said Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. “When we announced the squad, he had played the week before against Montpellier and we were impressed, so we said to him: ‘Depending on what happens over the next three or four weeks and how you play, you could easily come into the mix for one of these games over the November period’.

“I thought he was outstanding against Toulon, and even in defeat at the weekend I felt he was a player who took the game to Zebre – he broke nine or ten tackles and was very aggressive defensively. That’s the mind-set we need when we go to tough places like the Principality Stadium, so he’s earned his chance to play international rugby.”

As expected, Adam Hastings starts at stand-off for his fourth cap, with Townsend challenging he 22-year-old to take the opportunity to stake his claim for the number 10 jersey ahead of the unavailable Finn Russell on a permanent basis.

“It’s very important. It’s not so much about Adam pushing Finn, it’s Adam looking to get that number 10 jersey for himself,” said the coach. “He’s now going to play two internationals in a row and we’ll be looking for a response from Finn.

“We’ve seen that already from Finn this year. He’s got a big game this weekend against Montpellier but it’s a genuine competition for that jersey. Adam has been one of the form players in the PRO14 this year and really grabbed his opportunity for Glasgow.”

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Hastings bounced back from a dispiriting experience against the USA in his first international start against the USA during the summer to register a barnstorming performance the following week against Argentina, and Townsend expects to see the stand-off carry on from where he left off.

“More of the same of what he has been showing for Glasgow, and certainly more of the same of what he showed in his last international against Argentina,” he said. “What he’s done very well this year is work hard off the ball. He’s got an outstanding engine and that means he gets more involvements in the game, and he’s playing with confidence.

“His running game has come through this year – probably more than he or us expected – and his game management is always going to be something he will get better and better at the more he plays in that position. His temperament, his confidence, is what you want in a stand-off – looking to try things, looking to make things happen, being very positive.

Scotland team (against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, on Saturday 3rd November at 2.45pm): B Kinghorn (Edinburgh); T Seymour (VC), H Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), L Jones (Glasgow Warriors); A Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), A Price (Glasgow Warriors); A Dell (Edinburgh), S McInally© (Edinburgh), W Nel (Edinburgh), B Toolis (Edinburgh), J Gray (Glasgow Warriors), J Ritchie (Edinburgh), H Watson (Edinburgh), R Wilson VC (Glasgow Warriors). Subs: F Brown (Glasgow Warriors), A Allan (Glasgow Warriors), S Berghan (Edinburgh), G Gilchrist (Edinburgh), M Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), G Horne (Glasgow Warriors), P Horne (Glasgow Warriors), D Graham (Edinburgh).

Dell was ready to quit during horror season but is now determined to be Scotland’s number one


About David Barnes 3909 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.