Fully-fit Darcy Graham declared that he and Duhan van der Merwe are intent on filling their boots at the World Cup as they chase down Scotland’s all-time try record.
The free-scoring Edinburgh pair have developed into two of the most dangerous wings in world rugby and are aiming to showcase their finishing ability on the biggest stage of all in France, with the formidable South Africans first up in Marseille on Sunday evening.
The recently-retired Stuart Hogg currently holds the Scottish record with 27 but Van Der Merwe has got himself up to joint-fifth with Tommy Seymour after scoring three in his last two matches to take his tally to 20, while Graham is seventh with 19 after scoring seven tries in his last four international outings.
“Yes, definitely,” said Graham when asked if he sees the World Cup as a good chance to get closer to top spot. “Obviously Hoggy’s got it and me and Duhan are hunting him down.
“We’re both pretty confident we’re going to break it, it’s just about who’s going to do it first. We’re having a wee competition between ourselves.
“I’ve played with Duhan for a while now and when he scores I’m chuffed to bits for him but we’re hunting the record down.”
The Scots have one of the most rampant attacks in the world at present, and the talismanic Graham believes his impressive scoring record – and that of his fellow backs – is down to the way the team have been functioning.
“We’ve improved massively over the last two years as a Scotland team and everybody knows their jobs,” said the wing, speaking at a press conference in Aix-en-Provence, just north of Marseille, on the eve of the Springboks showdown.
“You look at me, Kyle (Steyn, who has three tries in his last two games) and Duhan, we’re all scoring. We’ve scored tries every game this season.
“But that’s our jobs, we’ve got to take our chances. We might only get a couple against South Africa and we’ve got to take them.
“That’s what we’re there to do, to finish off those tries out wide and I think there will be a huge opportunity tomorrow for us to do that.”
Graham missed the entire Six Nations earlier this year with a knee injury sustained in December and there was mild concern about his fitness for the South Africa game when he withdrew from the team to face Georgia in the last warm-up match two weeks ago.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) September 9, 2023
However, any fears were eased when the 26-year-old – who has played for Scotland only twice since November – came through the first two training sessions in Nice this week and was named in the starting XV on Thursday.
“I’m ready just to get stuck in and get going,” said Graham. “I got over that niggle reasonably quick. I think I could probably have played that Georgia game but it was better saving myself.
“With the bigger picture, I was happy to sit that one out and get myself ready for this game.
“We’ve had a good training week this week and the boys are excited to get out on the pitch.
“You don’t get any bigger stage than the World Cup and especially playing against the world champions, it doesn’t get any more special.
“We’ve been ready for the last couple of days. All the work’s done. It’s all about turning up on the day and performing.”