DARCY GRAHAM grew up in Hawick, where they know a bit about keeping a good player’s feet on the ground, so there isn’t much danger that he will get carried away by the hype which has surrounded his emergence this past season as one of the most exciting attacking players in European rugby.
But the 21-year-old is beginning to recognise the full extent of his own potential. While his focus at the moment is purely on working hard over the summer to make sure he is in Scotland’s World Cup squad when it heads off to Japan in just under three months’ time, he has been encouraged by his club head coach Richard Cockerill to believe that beyond that he can make the British and Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa in 2021.
“Cockers said in my one-to-one meeting we had at the end of the season that I’ve cemented myself in the Scotland squad so why not be the best winger in Britain and Ireland, not just Scotland,” revealed Graham, when he met the press during the Scotland World Cup training squad’s visit to Inverness earlier this week.
“He said to me that’s my next goal. I came out the meeting and I had never thought of that, but then I thought: ‘There’s no reason why not!’.”
It should be stressed that Graham did not bring up the possibility of his touring with the Lions. He was giving a typically honest answer to a specific question, and after years of Scotland being the poor relations of the Lions legacy it should be celebrated that players from this country now feel confident enough to openly express their ambitions.
And the fact that he quite fancies a jaunt to South Africa with Warren Gatland’s squad in two years’ time doesn’t detract in any way from his desire to achieve something special in Japan with Scotland this autumn.
“It’s quite nice if people think that [he could be a Lions bolter], but my focus is on this World Cup,” said Graham. “I need to get through this, play well and we’ll see what happens after that.
“The World Cup is the biggest tournament in the world, you always want to go and this is my chance to show the coaches what I can do: work hard on the field, get fit, put a bit of weight on and hopefully get on that plane.”
It should be noted that when Graham refers to bulking up, he is talking about adding to 2kgs to his current 83kg frame. He is perfectly happy being the smallest player on the paddock because he knows that he can offer a point of difference through his acceleration and fast feet, which has consistently left bigger men languishing in his wake during the last year.
“In my one-to-one with Cockers he said he’s not fussed about my weight,” explained Graham. “It will come naturally to me with four gym sessions a week, so I’m not worried about it.
“When I came in to the Scotland camp they asked me what my goals are for strength and conditioning, and I said then I just want to get quicker because the quicker I am the better I am.”