Darcy Graham keen to show that there is more to Edinburgh than pack power

Winger says the onus is on the outside backs to find a way to make an impact for capital outfit

Darcy Graham
Darcy Graham has established himself as first choice right wing for the Edinburgh but knows he is only as good as his last game. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

THERE has been a lot of chat these last two weeks about the power of Edinburgh’s pack, and there is no doubt that the big boys up-front were key to the capital outfit’s back-to-back victories over Glasgow Warriors during the festive period. But with a back three consisting of Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham, there is a fair bit of firepower out wide as well.

If it is slightly frustrating to the casual observer that the team is not set-up to get the ball into the hands of that exciting triumvirate as much as possible, then the players themselves understand the logic behind the game-plan, and if it means the club’s purple patch continues into 2019 then you won’t hear them complaining.

“You can’t take anything away from the forwards – they are outstanding – really top notch,” said Graham, the 21-year-old winger, who spent most of last season (his first as a full-time pro) floating in and out of the side between injury, Scotland 7s duty and being drafted back to his hometown club of Hawick, but who now seems to have made the number 14 jersey his own having started and played the full 80 minutes in nine out of the clubs last 11 matches.

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The only two Edinburgh games he has missed since the start of October were against the Scarlets in early November when he was down in Cardiff making his senior Scotland debut, and against Munster at the end of that same month when head coach Richard Cockerill rested almost all of his frontline players in preparation for a hectic December consisting of back-to-back matches against Newcastle Falcons in the European Champions Cup followed by the 1872 Cup double-header against the Warriors.

With Edinburgh winning all four of those crucial December games, the mood in the camp is understandably high, and Graham believes that the onus is on him to fit into what the team is trying to do rather than expect to have everything laid on a plate.

“When the forwards are winning penalties you’re so energised that it’s like scoring a try, the boys are just buzzing,” he said.  “I just have to find ways to get into the game and get on the ball by working off my wing. You might only get one or two opportunities out-wide, so you have to take them.

“Each game is different. Some days you’ll see lots of ball, others you might not see anything.”

Besides, rugby is not only about what you do when in possession, and despite his lack of bulk (a fraction short of 5ft 8ins and just under 12-stone), Graham has always revelled in punching well above his weight in defence.

While he had a tendency towards being over-eager to throw himself into the tackle when he first arrived at Edinburgh, head coach Richard Cockerill recognised that this was natural for a young player finding his feet at pro level and is satisfied that Graham is making the requisite progress when it comes to reading the game and developing the discipline to hold himself back when necessary.

“Defence has been a huge work on for the team,” said the player. “Everybody needs to nail down their roles. We looked at Glasgow closely [last week] and took their running threats away.

“I’m really enjoying the defending. Working on my positioning, keeping my width and so on. It’s quite easy to miss an opportunity, it’s split second decision making.”

Having made that senior international debut off the bench against Wales at the start of November, Graham knows he wants more. But he also recognises that his priority needs to be club level, with Cockerill more than happy to drop a player like a hot potato the moment his performances fail to measure up to the exacting standards expected.

“I’m honestly loving my rugby just now, getting my game time with Edinburgh and managing to keep forcing my way into the team,” he said. “I’m looking to nail down that winger’s spot and I’m getting there. But I’m not taking anything for granted. You never know what’s going to happen next week. You have one bad game and Richard will swap you out, so you’ve got to keep that form and take your opportunity.

“I just keep taking it week by week, pushing for a starting place with Edinburgh and also pushing for Scotland. That’s my dream. I got the last seven minutes back in the autumn. I just want more of that now. It was amazing, a dream come true.”

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About David Barnes 3381 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.