Edinburgh's super backs can pull off three card trick
Kinghorn, Graham and Van der Merwe are the dangermen
Gone are the days when Edinburgh were viewed as one or even two-dimensional team as a highly potent attacking first-choice back three continues to develop.
Blair Kinghorn, 22, Darcy Graham, 22, and Duhan van der Merwe, 24, have weapons in their armoury to frighten most defences and, after punching some holes in Glasgow last Saturday at Scotstoun but not quite doing enough, they will be looking to drive Edinburgh to an 1872 Cup-levelling win at BT Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon.
“I think our back three is one of the most dangerous out there. We back ourselves,” said full-back Kinghorn. “Darcy’s got great feet and can cut around people from nowhere, while Duhan, he’s very fast and disruptive. I’m very grateful to be able to play with them.
“Our back three is strong, we’ve got a lot of depth there now so there’s good competition for places. It’s great to see Duhan get his 50th for the club. He’s only really played here two-and-a-half seasons because he was injured in his first season. To rack up that number of caps in that amount of time is outstanding, so I’m really happy for him. He’s been a great addition to the club.”
Van der Merwe, the physical and lightning quick wing who joined from Montpellier in 2017, becomes Scottish-qualified on the old three-year residency rule in the summer so the prospect of this being a Test back-three at some point is a distinct possibility.
Of course, Scotland’s star man and full-back Stuart Hogg, who could well be the national captain in the Six Nations, has many years left in the tank but, for various reasons, few players are available or required for every international that is played.
“It could happen, but it’s a long way away,” said Kinghorn, whose ability to play wing has seen him accommodated in the Scotland team alongside Hogg, although he has also had a few runs in his favourite full-back position in his 17 caps.
“I think Duhan’s definitely good enough to play internationally, he’s learning more and more about the game and his positional stuff is getting so much better, I feel comfortable playing with him in the backfield. When teams kick loose to him he’s disruptive. It’s great to see him charging back at them.”
Asked what his primary role in the trio is, Kinghorn smiled and said: “I just try and control those two!”
Kinghorn scored a fine late try at Scotstoun to take Edinburgh to the brink of victory but, in the end, Glasgow wrestled the lead back at the end as George Turner finished off a driving maul to give the Warriors a 20-16 win in the opening leg.
“It could have been but it didn’t turn out that way,” said Kinghorn, who stepped in impressively off the touchline to wrongfoot the Glasgow defence.
“It’s the way rugby goes to be honest. We had a chance at the end of the game but sometimes…”
While Edinburgh may be developing into an attacking force, that has long been ingrained in the Glasgow DNA, as they showed with a brilliant combination between Adam Hastings, Huw Jones and scorer Ali Price for the last game’s first try.
So Kinghorn remains wary of the threat they pose in the wide spaces of the international pitch this Saturday afternoon.
“We know Glagsow can score out of nowhere and they did that for the first try, the chip and chase, was something out of nothing,” said the former Edinburgh Academy pupil.
“There was just a couple of times we lost our shape in the middle of the park. I thought our nines and tens kicked really well.
“But yes, I think it’s always a game of fine margins between these teams, no-one’s ever going to run away with it. We just came out of it on the wrong side on Saturday.”