Scotland winger Darcy Graham has vowed to be at his mesmerising best in a bid to cause their Pool rivals a whole lot of bother.
The 22-year-old Edinburgh Rugby man had not made his international debut this time last year, but five tries in seven games since then – including two at Twickenham against England in the Six Nations – earned his place in the Scots’ 31 for the showpiece event.
Such is his explosive form off the mark in attack that many pundits believe he will start ahead of Tommy Seymour in the Pool A opener with Ireland in Yokohama City Sunday.
For years ex-Wales and British & Irish Lions winger Shane Williams was constantly asked about his size – or lack of it – and used to reply: “Just remember, it’s the size of the smile that counts.”
The 5ft 7ins flyer also answered his critics by scoring tries by the barrowload at all levels.
Graham is of similar stature to Williams but does not mind mixing it with the big guys and cannot wait to play at a World Cup.
“Right from the days when I played in school back in Hawick, I have always been smaller than the other guys on the rugby pitch and have had to punch above my weight,” Graham said.
“When I first came in to the pro game there is no doubt the guys were bigger than I had encountered before, but I have always backed myself to be faster – and think quicker – than those I’m up against.
“Three things have really helped me, one the backing of Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, two the backing of Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill and three my stint with the Scotland Sevens team on the World Series circuit.
“The two coaches have been excellent with me, they have backed me to play the way I want to play and have given me a bit of license to have a go and try things when spaces open up, while the Sevens exposure helped me with my positioning and running better support lines.
“I have always wanted to challenge myself against the best, so what better place to be able to do that than at a World Cup?
“If I get a chance to play against Ireland I will look to do my best for the team and try and find space when we are attacking. They are a very good team, but so are we.”
Meanwhile, Graham has paid tribute to his family for helping him make it on to the big stage.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for the support of my family,” he insisted.
“When I was younger my mum and dad had to help me get to all sorts of places to play games, but they knew that playing for Scotland was my dream and they went the extra mile to give me support.
“Even now they are my biggest fans and they are always there to support me through the good and the bad times along with my other family members.”
Graham has revealed that he missed two calls from Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair before finally getting back to him to find out he would be off to the World Cup.
Graham said: “They both came up with no caller ID, so I wasn’t sure who they were from in the first place, but I am glad I finally spoke to him and was buzzing to get the news.”
GARY HEATLY / Getty Images
Ireland v Scotland
International Stadium Yokohama
Scotland v Samoa
Kobe Misaki Stadium
Scotland v Russia
Japan v Scotland
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