Scotland’s Darcy Graham reveals Welshman who inspired his career

Growing up in Hawick steeped in rugby tradition, Darcy Graham idolised many a Scottish player, including some with whom he is now in a Six Nations squad, but the 21-year-old admits that a legend from the land of this Saturday’s opposition was one of his great role models.

Darcy Graham says that, when growing up, he used to love watching Shane Williams, left, play for Wales.

Shane Williams was the ultimate example in rugby’s modern professional age that a good little ’un can beat a bad big ’un and it’s not surprising that Graham would have looked to the Welsh wing wizard for 

The young Borderer is a couple of inches taller than the 5ft 6in Williams, who scored an incredible 60 tries in 91 Tests for Wales and the British and Irish Lions during his stellar career, but in the current era of behemoth backs has a lot in common with the Neath nipper.

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“I grew up watching Shane Williams. He was kind of like my sporting hero, with his size – tiny – and still being an amazing rugby player,” said Graham.

“I’ve got huge admiration for what he did. He’s world-class. And, if he’d been bigger, he would have been 

“Well, I say that but size doesn’t mean anything now. It’s nothing for me. I run like I’m 100 kilos, I don’t think about who I’m running at – I’ll just do it and then think after.”

Edinburgh wing Graham came off the bench during Scotland’s 27-10 defeat by France in Paris for his second cap, and was singled out for praise by head coach Gregor Townsend for bringing some much-lacking energy to proceedings for the well-beaten visitors.

Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland have become established starters on the flanks for Scotland in the past few years but if the boss does decide to shake things up as a response to the Paris flop, Graham could be in line for a first Test start and a home debut at 
BT Murrayfield.

“Sean and Tommy are both world-class players and, to go up against them, I mean I’ve watched them playing for years…” said Graham.

“When I was a younger player, I used to love watching them. Now to go up against them, fighting for a spot, it’s quite breathtaking.

“Because I’ve watched them do so well in a Scotland jersey. I would like that chance to show what I can do, hopefully bring something different.”

The Border terrier has blossomed with Edinburgh under Richard Cockerill this season after injuries and a stint with the Sevens set-up and doesn’t give a second thought to his size in comparison to some of the man mountains that populate the pro rugby arena.

“For me, I don’t run at bodies. You find a space, use your footwork,” he explained. “I’m actually trying to find the big men. That’s what I go out to do, find the big men and use my feet up against them. Pick on the fatties!”

Graham admits that donning the dark blue jersey at Murrayfield would be extra special after his appearances in Cardiff in November and in Paris. “It’s the next step for me,” he said. “I have always dreamed of playing for Scotland at Murrayfield and singing the national anthem there. It has always been a dream of mine, it would be very special.

“I’ve dreamed about it for years, to get it would be really nice.”

Graham was one of six subs who Townsend threw on at once at the Stade de France as the game steadily slipped away from the injury-beset Scots, who have now lost two out of three after losing their long unbeaten Six Nations home record against the Irish. “Whenever you get on, you are always bringing energy, trying to do something on the ball. That’s your aim when you come on,” said the youngster.

“You want to start every week and that is your chance to show what you can do, what you can bring to the team. It was quite amazing that all six of us came on at the same time against France.

“We did all speak about just bringing that energy in attack and defence. It was a bit different, all coming on at once. I’d never really experienced that. It was just hugely exciting for myself, coming on for my second 
runabout. That was energising for me.”

It ended the wait for a second cap after he made his debut in the 
opening November Test against the Welsh, who head north this weekend with a potential Grand Slam in their sights.

“It is frustrating. But I’m young enough, I’ve got plenty of time,” said Graham “I just have to keep ticking over, learning all the time. And when I get my opportunity, hopefully I know what I’m doing.

“Hopefully I can be thrown in there and be OK – and Gregor has the trust in me to do that.”

The wing certainly feels that he has progressed hugely in the space of a year.

“Definitely, last year I had just come out of the Under-20s and was raw and trying to find my feet with Edinburgh,” he said.

“It was a huge step up with 20s, probably more off the pitch with all the learning, that is probably what I found the hardest, the number of moves and all that. It is all about game understanding and game awareness, it makes a huge difference.”