Scotland winger Graham holds long-term Lions aspiration

18/06/19
SCOTLAND TRAINING CAMP
CANAL PARK - INVERNESS
Scotland's Darcy Graham
18/06/19 SCOTLAND TRAINING CAMP CANAL PARK - INVERNESS Scotland's Darcy Graham

Scotland’s Darcy Graham has become accustomed to resetting targets during a rise which has left him on the verge of a Rugby World Cup debut.

Having set his sights on making a big impression at this year’s tournament in Japan, Edinburgh winger Graham will make it his next goal to catch the eye of British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland ahead of the 2021 tour.

Graham has made a barnstorming international impact since making his Scotland debut against Wales in November last year, notably scoring two tries in the memorable 38-38 Six Nations draw against England at Twickenham, in the most recent of four caps.

The 21-year-old was part of Scotland’s 42-man pool which began its World Cup preparation with a two-day training camp at Highland’s Canal Park in Inverness, aiming to consolidate his place in Gregor Townsend’s final squad of 31 places.

Graham insists the long-term target of Lions inclusion will be on his radar come the completion of the tournament, following talks with his Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill at the end of the Pro14 season.

Graham said: “Richard told me in my one-to-one meeting that I’ve cemented myself in the Scotland squad, so why not be the best winger in Britain and Ireland, not just Scotland? He’s said to me that’s my next goal, to aim for that.

“I came out of the meeting and I had never thought of that and then thought there’s no reason why not.

“My focus is on to this World Cup – 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 and put a bit of weight on and hopefully get on that plane.

“I don’t look that far ahead – I’m one of those boys who just takes it week by week. There’s a long way to go before that Japan plane leaves and a lot of hard work.”

Graham has set himself the target of adding 2kg to his current weight of 83kg in time for the World Cup, however he insists he will not be forcing the increase to the detriment of his speed.

He added: “Richard said he’s not fussed about my weight, it will come naturally to me with four gym sessions a week, so I’m not worried about it.

“When I came in to Scotland they asked me what my goals are for strength and conditioning and I said then I just want to get quick because the quicker I am, the better I am.”

Hawick-born Graham recently returned to his hometown club, where he began his career prior to joining Edinburgh in 2017, in an event which also involved fellow Scotland player Stuart Hogg.

Graham added: “It was good fun. It was really nice of the club to put that on for us – it was for my first cap and Stuart becoming the most capped Scottish player out of Hawick. It was probably a good send off for him as well.

“Coming for Hawick, you always want to play for Hawick and play for Scotland and get your photo up on that wall. There’s a lot of big names on that wall so it was pretty special.”

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