ON the rugby field, Darcy Graham has the happy knack of making sure that he is in the right place at the right time, as demonstrated when he came off his wing to help himself to two tries for Edinburgh in their United Rugby Championship round one victory over the Scarlets two weekends ago.
Off the field, it is a very different scenario, with the winger being posted missing on Tuesday when he was supposed to be on media duties helping preview this weekend’s home match against the Stormers.
As a consequence, he has been ordered to spend his spare time this week in the kitchen baking snacks for his team-mates, while the rest of the squad have been putting their feet up and relaxing.
“I’ve had a nightmare, I got fined for it and have to bring everybody traybakes for the end of the week,” Graham explained, when he finally got round to speaking to the press after training on Wednesday.
“That is my punishment. I have 50 boys to bake for now!”
Turning his attention back towards rugby, Graham says the team have reviewed and addressed the issues which led to a last-minute defeat away to Benetton last weekend, and are now intent on recapturing the form they showed when beating Scarlets in round one.
The consensus is that the team’s move to their new home, the DAM Health Stadium, on the back pitches at Murrayfield, has had the hoped-for effect in terms of encouraging the sort of vibrant match-day atmosphere which was always lacking when they played on the national team’s pitch – and Graham is keen to talk up the positive effect that can have on performance levels.
“I am really buzzing for it,” he said. “When we played the first game there against the Scarlets, it was absolutely bouncing. They [the fans] helped us to that win and, no doubt, if we had them over in Treviso, too, we would have got our win.
“If we keep getting results like we did against Scarlets, it will be a real hard place for teams to come and we can build on that atmosphere and it will be good times for us,” he added.
The 24-year-old has spoken before about how difficult the second half of last season was as he tried to balance his rugby responsibilities with dealing with his brother being in an induced coma following a car crash in January just outside the family’s hometown of Hawick.
Thankfully, Clark is now on the mend, and Graham has returned to his high-energy best.
“I think a big part of it is having the crowds back,” he explained. “I really struggled without the fans during the height of the pandemic. I always thought I never noticed that sort of thing but when they weren’t there, I did not like it at all. I hated it.
“It did not feel right playing rugby in front of nobody so having them back has given me so much more energy. I absolutely love it.
“You get that vibe and energy off them. If something good happens, like a penalty or a turnover, they go crazy. That fills me with energy, because I’m usually the closest to it standing out there on the wing, so I try to pass it on to the boys inside me.
“I’ve also had a good pre-season, getting back from a shoulder injury, so I feel really good … really sharp … so, it is just about looking after myself during the week and tearing into it on match-day,” he added.
“I think I am going to be up against Edwill van der Merwe this weekend, who is a Cheslin Kolbe type player with electric feet, so I am going to have to be at my best for that.”
Scotland’s four match Autumn Test schedule is now looming over the horizon, but Graham insists that he not looking that far ahead.
“We have three games before the Scotland games come around and nothing is guaranteed,” he insisted.
“There are so many boys playing well just now so I have to be focussed on going out there and proving what I can do for Edinburgh, and hopefully I get selected for Scotland off the back of that.”