Test great Chris Paterson praises Darcy Graham’s wonderful natural ability which brings the ‘wow’ factor to Scottish rugby
Edinburgh winger has potential to get even better in new Guinness Pro14 season
Scotland’s first cap centurion Chris Paterson cites watching the continuing progress of Darcy Graham as the thing he is most looking forward to when the delayed 2020-21 Guinness Pro14 season gets under way this weekend.
Gala product Paterson puts all parochial Borders rivalry aside when it comes to singing the praises of Hawick 23-year-old Graham, who has emerged as one of Scottish rugby’s most exciting young talents.
Paterson played a record 109 times for his country, before Kelso’s Ross Ford overtook him as Scotland’s most capped player. The former full-back is now an analyst for Premier Sports and is preparing for punditry duties pundits on the station’s coverage of the new Pro14 season.
“There are similarities between the pair as both Graham and his esteemed predecessor in the Edinburgh wing/full-back role are not exactly in keeping with the behemoths of the modern professional game.
Never discount Border terrier spirit and the innate rugby knowledge that comes with that upbringing, though.
“How can you not love watching Darcy? I can remember working with him as he was coming through the academy and age-grade systems and you knew right away that he would have the ability to do what he did then at each level he moved up,” said Paterson.
Graham already has five Test tries to his name in 11 appearances since his Scotland debut in Cardiff in November 2018 and his latest piece of eye-catching wizardry was his superb touchline-dodging assist for Damien Hoyland to score for Edinburgh in Bordeaux a couple of weeks ago.
“He just has that natural ability to beat players, run around them, hard into contact, fight for space and take everything in his stride,” continued Paterson. “I’m delighted to see his progress and the great thing is he will get even better. He’s a wonderful player. Every game he plays there is a moment when you’re open-mouthed and say ‘wow’ which is brilliant for Scottish rugby.”
Paterson is now an SRU ambassador and performs a number of specialist coaching roles at various levels around the country. Currently he is spending a lot of time working with the Scotland Women’s team in isolated regional pods as they prepare for a busy end to the year with completion of their pandemic-ruined Six Nations campaign and all-important World Cup qualifiers.
It has been a year like no other, which has prompted Paterson to consider how he would have coped with such challenges during his playing career.
“I never had anything like this so it’s hard to know how I would have responded,” he said. “Just by focusing on what’s in front of me I think. The current crop of players have, I believe, just formed a mentality that this is our band, our bubble, and cracked on accordingly. What else can you do?”
Naturally, it’s the progress of the Scottish teams in the Pro14 that will be of most interest to Paterson as Glasgow kick-off away at Connacht while Edinburgh host Ospreys tomorrow evening. He spent most of his career in the capital, of course, but as a curiosity Paterson did also turn out for Glasgow, too, in their Caledonia Reds days after bursting on the scene as a gifted young stand-off for Gala.
“It was a couple of games I think,” said Paterson as he trawled his memory for his fleeting time with Glasgow. “In 1998. Who did I play now? There was a pre-season friendly against Ulster and I came off the bench against New Zealand Maori in the November. A long time ago!”
Paterson will be on duty at the Connacht-Glasgow this weekend but will also be keeping an eye on things later on the Saturday evening at BT Murrayfield as the Premier Sports team, which includes his former clubmate Jim Hamilton and Rory Lawson, pick up their mics again.
“We got a taste of things in the past few weeks and now it starts properly,” said Paterson. “It’s an interesting couple of games for the Scottish guys. Glasgow always seem to get Connacht away to start and they play an attacking brand of rugby, like Glasgow.
“Edinburgh at home will be a big game for them. Ospreys weren’t great last season but if you look at the squad they have it is quite impressive. Driven by a disappointing semi-final against Ulster a few weeks ago I’m sure the Edinburgh boys will be up for it.”
Edinburgh topped Conference B in Pro14 before that deflating loss to Ulster in the last four and Paterson added: “The good thing in many ways is that they had to dispose of that Ulster disappointment quickly as they then had a big European fixture [the 23-24 Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to Bordeaux-Begles] to focus on and now the start of the new Guinness Pro14 season.
“I’m sure that’s been dealt with. They didn’t start well against Bordeaux but went on to create some good opportunities against a fine French side so that should give them confidence.”
• Premier Sports has teamed up with Edinburgh and Glasgow to create a special £80 season-long offer for all new customers to sign-up and watch their team throughout 2020/21. The offer ends on 31 October 2020.
Signing up for this offer on Sky and the Premier Player will earn £10 for their club from Premier Sports as a contribution during difficult times.
Premier Sports, is the home of the Guinness PRO14 in the UK and shows every game live. Rugby fans can subscribe on Sky or the Premier Sports Player. Visit www.premiersports.com
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