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Scotland star Darcy Graham looks set to miss yet another Six Nations

By Bryn Palmer
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 07: Darcy Graham of Scotland looks dejected after the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Ireland and Scotland at Stade de France on October 07, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Scotland wing Darcy Graham is expected to miss the whole of the Six Nations for the second straight year as he awaits a definitive verdict on his latest injury setback.

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The Edinburgh flyer was originally expected to be in contention for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash with England after missing the Scots’ opening matches against Wales and France with a quad issue.

Head coach Gregor Townsend had anticipated Graham would play in Edinburgh’s URC victory against Zebre last Friday after returning to training, but the 26-year-old then opted to miss the trip to Parma to focus on getting himself ready to train with Scotland this week.

But he subsequently sustained a groin injury in training and is awaiting specialist advice to determine whether this latest issue may require surgery and a further spell on the sidelines.

“Last week, chatting with [Edinburgh head coach] Sean [Everitt] and Darcy, we thought he would play 60 minutes with Edinburgh – that was the agreement,” Townsend explained.

“And then Darcy decided he was just going to focus on training so that he was ready to train this week in the knowledge that he might not be selected because he had been out for longer.

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“He trained Monday – he was flying – and then on Wednesday he was flying again but then his groin on the other side got injured. So, he is still speaking to the specialist, but I don’t believe he’ll be back for the end of the championship. Hopefully he won’t be out for long with Edinburgh but it’s a blow.

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“He did everything to get back available for this game through his quad injury, but it is a new injury which means it’s unlikely he will play for us [during the Six Nations].

“I know he’s had a scan because the scan gave a picture, but the specialist will determine whether it requires surgery or a period of rehab.”

Graham, joint-second on Scotland’s all-time try-scoring list with 24 in 39 Tests, was in the form of his life when he damaged knee ligaments playing for Edinburgh in December 2022, ruling him out of the whole of last season’s Six Nations.

He returned towards the end of last season in time to feature in the World Cup, scoring five tries in France before damaging his hip in Scotland’s final pool game against Ireland.

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That resulted in a further two months out, during which he took the chance to have a screw removed from his knee – the result of surgery from his previous injury.

He made his comeback off the bench against Castres in December and started Edinburgh’s next three matches until mid-January, but has now suffered two further injuries in quick succession.

“It has been a frustrating time for Darcy since the World Cup,” Townsend said. “You think of the form he was in going into the last Six Nations when he was one of the best wingers in the world.

“So to miss the Six Nations, come back for the World Cup, and then the injury from the World Cup has kept him out a lot of Edinburgh games.

“But as we say to every player, there’s a lot of rugby left. While the six Nations is a huge tournament, there is a lot of games for Edinburgh left to play and there’s the summer tour. So, let’s hope he gets involved in both of those.”

While Graham’s continued absence deprives Scotland of one of their most potent attacking weapons, Townsend’s back-three options for England’s visit have been bolstered by the return of Kyle Steyn, who missed the France game when his wife went into labour, and fit-again full-back Blair Kinghorn.

Townsend was forced to deploy specialist wing Kyle Rowe in the 15 jersey against Wales and give novice Harry Paterson a Test debut against France, with Kinghorn’s main back-up Ollie Smith ruled out for the season.

But the Toulouse recruit, who played a starring role in the recent Netflix ‘Full Contact’ series about the Six Nations, has been eagerly welcomed back into the fold.

“He’s a brilliant guy to have in camp – laid-back, funny and just relaxed with not just us as a coaching group but his team-mates,” Townsend added.

“I think that is a really good thing from a series like ‘Full Contact’, that a lot of people don’t know Blair’s character. He was brilliant, wasn’t he? We’ve loved his different personality for years.

“He’s the one at the front of the bus when someone has to MC or do songs between training and games. His jokes are on the edge – luckily Netflix haven’t filmed any of them.

“He’s a very natural person around the group. It’s been good to have his energy back this week.”

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