NEWS | Darcy Graham: On the road to recovery

In any sport, remaining on the sidelines due to injury is a frustrating and testing experience, but perhaps moreso when you are chomping at the bit to prove yourself.

For Edinburgh’s Darcy Graham, who injured his knee whilst playing for Hawick in early September, the sidelines have become a familiar and unwelcome sight in recent times. But back running and only weeks away from a return to full training, the 20-year-old winger is raring to once again throw his hat in the ring for first team selection.

“Rehab has been going really well,” explains Graham. “I’m six weeks into the process and I just got my knee brace taken off last week. I’m back running now which feels great. It’s now a case of getting fit, getting back into training and finally putting my hand up for selection.

“Injuries unfortunately come hand in hand with the modern game of rugby. You just take it and try and recover as quickly as possible. The first few weeks were tough watching from the sidelines, but you soon get in a routine.

In all honesty, I’ve probably needed this time to put on a bit of size. I’ve really been able to hammer the gym so it’s probably worked in my favour.

A positive mindset, which Graham possess in spades, is an essential trait when on the long road to recovery. Although the 20-year-old admits that prop Rory Sutherland, who himself has just recovered following groin surgery, has helped him sustain his spirits en route to full fitness, it has been the advice of another Hawick man, and former coach, which has kept him going during this tricky spell.

“Nikki Walker (the former Hawick, Ospreys and Scotland wing) was great to me as a coach and I really learned a lot from him,” says Graham. “The fact that he played on the wing for both club and country has had a great impact on me, in terms of his coaching and the way I play the game now. My positioning; my ability to play the high ball and my knowledge of the wing position all improved dramatically under him.”

It was with Hawick, under the tutelage of Walker, where Graham made his name as one of Scottish rugby’s most exciting prospects. Following a string of impressive performances for the Mansfield Park outfit, the winger was named in the Scotland U20 squad for last summer’s World Rugby Championship in Georgia – a tournament in which the Dark Blues finished a best-ever fifth place.

Whilst creating a small piece of Scottish rugby history was undoubtedly a crowning moment in Graham’s burgeoning career, the 20-year-old admits that the tournament was the perfect litmus test for his move into professional rugby.

“It would have been a huge jump if I’d gone straight from Hawick into the Edinburgh set-up, but I had Scotland U20s in between which was a huge help. I played in both the Six Nations as well as the World Rugby Championship in the summer which really allowed me to get used to the physicality of rugby beyond the club stage. Going from Scotland U20s to pre-season with Edinburgh, it was pretty much the same level of intensity, so I had kind of acclimatised already.”

It was also during Scotland’s successful World Rugby U20 Championship campaign where Graham met Luke Crosbie; a fellow Edinburgh prospect who only recently made his debut in the black and red against Zebre. Whilst the 20-year-old is hungry to replicate his teammates’ recent success, which has also seen the back-row score his first try for the club, the winger is quick to acknowledge the hard-work which has gone into Crosbie’s rise.

“There’s nothing better than seeing one of your mates come through the ranks and make his debut,” explains Graham. “Since we played together at U20s, he’s really progressed and fully deserves his place in the team. He’s worked hard, put on a bit of size and really grabbed his chance.

“Of course, seeing Luke make his first XV debut definitely pushes you on. I’d obviously would have loved to have started the season fighting fit, but I’m well on my way to recovery. I’ll do my upmost in the coming weeks to stake my claim for a place in this team.”