Graham Has Sights Set on Edinburgh Success and Future Scotland Caps
He came back from injury with a bang, and now Edinburgh winger Darcy Graham has spoken about the aftermath of the Montpellier loss, the upcoming challenge of Toulon, and the possibility of playing internationally for Scotland.
Darcy Graham in action against the Toyota Cheetahs (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
Montpellier performance had positive affect on squad mentality
It was a return to European Champions Cup rugby that brought up a number of talking points, but ultimately it was Montpellier that claimed the 21-15 victory this past weekend. Graham, who started on the wing, believes their opponents’ defensive strength was a main factor of their win.
Graham said: “They’re a world-class team, they defend space very well – especially out wide, the space is there one minute and then it swallows up very quickly. It was quite frustrating that I never saw as much ball attacking-wise as the week before, but defensively I just had to go out there and show what I could do.”
Considering who they were up against, and the momentous occasion that their return to Europe was, Edinburgh can be pleased with the challenge they presented to Montpellier.
Discussing how it had impacted the players, Graham said: “It brought a lot of belief into the squad. We have to believe ourselves now. Going out there, maybe we didn’t know what to expect in the scoreline or performance wise, but it shows that we’re bloody good.
“We can go out there and perform and be in games, it’s just little details that maybe let us down like a wee dropped ball or not clearing out a ruck quick enough and giving away turnover ball.
“We were gutted. We came off that pitch knowing that we’d let it slip by us. We should have won that game. There was a game there for the taking.
“But we’re learning. A year and a half ago, two years ago – we weren’t in that competition, but even if we did get there it could have been an absolute pumping. We left it out there and could have, should have won.”
Perhaps it is not a lack of ability – as Edinburgh have definitely improved on the skill-set and stamina under the leadership of Richard Cockerill – but rather a case of keeping their minds in the game for the full 80 minutes.
Graham admitted: “Confidence is there. We just need to back ourselves, I think. We just let the game get away from us in the first 10-15 minutes. It was just that overwhelming experience, and it took us a wee bit longer than we’d like to settle the nerves.
“We needed to settle the nerves a lot quicker. We need to start the Toulon game well and fire in straight away and believe in ourselves, because we are good, and we can be in these games. We just switch off at times, but it’s definitely there.
“We’re just about there and we’re going to put one of these big teams away eventually. But it just needs to be sooner rather than later.”
Opportunity of Toulon at home
With Toulon coming to Murrayfield this weekend, could they be the big team that Edinburgh secure a win over? Graham replied: “Oh, totally. We were going to Montpellier to put them away, we weren’t there to keep the scoreboard down.
“It’s going to be the same again this week against a similar team – big boys, physical, hard runners. It’s that physical edge we need to get over – start the game with that physical edge.”
Toulon will be coming to the capital with intent of their own, as they also come off the back of a 26-25 loss to Newcastle in the start of their own Champions Cup campaign.
So, Graham fully expects them to play with an extra edge, as he said: “Toulon this week are going to come out hurting from that loss [to Newcastle] and looking to get their campaign going – as we are. Both looking for our first win.”
If picked for the starting team, Graham could find himself fighting for that win against All Blacks winger Julian Savea. However, he claims to relish the possibility of such a clash, as he wasn’t afforded any encounters with Montpellier’s Nemani Nadolo last weekend.
On this, Graham said: “I was gutted [Nadolo] never played – I was wanting to prove myself there. I don’t really look too far into who I’m playing against – it’s just like, whoever’s there I’ll play them and I’ll tackle them and I’ll run at them.”
These are definitely passionate fighting words that Graham has done his best to back up. In the past year, he has worked on increasing his weight – he’s up from 77 kilos to 84, in the just over a year.
This dedication to bettering his game will only help his chances of Scotland selection, as well as Edinburgh. The 21-year-old openly admits that this is definitely an accolade which he aims to receive.
Graham stated: “That’s two games [for Edinburgh this season] under my belt, the full 80 minutes, and I want to keep building and show what I can do and push for the national squad. That’s kind of my end goal – the dream to play for Scotland.
“I want to prove a point that there is still room for these small boys in the game. You have to go out and play each game as it comes and just enjoy the experience.”
Continually coming up against bigger men will not be an easy task, but Graham is perfectly prepared to accept that fact: “It is kind of difficult. Technique comes into it a lot as these big boys run flat out and it is very hard to stop them, so you have a bit of heart and put your body in front of them.
“I’ve got no respect for my body – I just throw myself into it.”
Graham may just be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate the lengths to which he is prepared to throw his body on the line for Scotland, as he has been called in to train with Gregor Townsend’s Scotland squad for the upcoming Autumn Internationals.