Who is Duhan van der Merwe really – the South Africa-born wing who was included as one of the “bolters” in the British and Irish Lions touring squad to South Africa on Thursday?
Van der Merwe’s inclusion in the 37-man squad drew the biggest interest locally because of his connections with South Africa.
A powerful winger of 106kg and 1.93m tall, the 25-year-old follows in the footsteps of Ireland No 8 CJ Stander who was another former SA player to become a Lion – on the previous tour of 2017 to New Zealand. The Munster player, who will retire from rugby shortly, missed out on selection this time.
Ironically both Van der Merwe and Stander received recognition abroad after not being recognised in Pretoria and by the Bulls.
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Taking a closer look at Van Der Merwe’s exploits, the younger brother of Bok hooker Akker, was born in George in the Western Cape and attended Outeniqua High School.
Van der Merwe quickly caught the eye; he was selected for the SA Schools side in 2012-13 for whom he played five matches and he also turned out in two games for the SA U20 side in 2014.
After school he attended the University of Pretoria where he played for the University of Pretoria Tuks team in eight games, scoring 74 points.
Van der Merwe played two matches for the Bulls in 2016 before moving to Montpellier in France where he played four games until 2017.
The powerful winger’s fortunes changed for the better when he joined the Edinburgh Rugby Club in 2017. He qualified to play for Scotland through the three-year residency rule and it wasn’t long before the Scottish selectors started to notice his strong performances in the Pro14 and European club competitions.
Van der Merwe was duly picked by Scotland last year and he has been one of his team’s star performers in the Six Nations, scoring eight tries in just 10 Tests.
He has so far played 64 games for his club Edinburgh, which have brought him 155 points from 31 tries.
And now Van der Merwe is ready to thrill in the country of his birth.
His proud older brother Akker, as well as rugby fans in Europe and South Africa, will be watching.