Duhan ‘in the mix’ for Scotland cap

Former Vodacom Blue Bulls wing Duhan van der Merwe is in line for a Scotland debut whenever international rugby resumes after the coronavirus pandemic, head coach Gregor Townsend has confirmed.

Van der Merwe, who turns 25 next month, is now available on residency grounds after completing three years at Edinburgh, where he has racked up 31 tries in 57 games.

Townsend has spoken to the powerful wing several times during the season and again in the last couple of weeks, indicating Van der Merwe could have made his Test bow against his native South Africa in July.

‘We obviously see him as a player who would have been in the mix for the summer tour,’ Townsend said. ‘That is unlikely to go ahead but we will keep monitoring how he is playing for Edinburgh.

‘He is an excellent player and has shown a different level of play this year. His work off the ball has been excellent; his kick-chase and defence has been up there with his excellent ball-carrying.

‘He is quick, strong and makes a lot of line breaks and tackle breaks. He is a young player that gets better the more he plays.’

Sean Maitland and Blair Kinghorn were Scotland’s starting wings in all four of their Six Nations games, while Van der Merwe’s Edinburgh team-mate Darcy Graham will also be in contention again after missing the tournament through injury.

‘We do have competition in that position,’ noted Townsend, also citing the likes of former Griquas wing Kyle Steyn, who made his debut off the bench against France in March, his Glasgow teammate Ratu Tagive and Byron McGuigan, the former Border Bulldogs player.

‘But with Tommy Seymour retiring from international rugby, Duhan will certainly be in the mix for our next international.’

Townsend also confirmed he expects Glasgow’s former Stormers loose-head Oli Kebble – son of ex-Springboks prop Guy Kebble – and Edinburgh fly-half Jaco van der Walt, who moved to the Scottish capital from the Lions in 2017 – to be available for Scotland in October and November respectively.

Kebble, 27, has been a first choice for the Warriors with Van der Walt, 26, a regular starter in the Scottish capital.

‘It depends on when we next play, but we know they’re going to be eligible later this year,’ Townsend said. ‘They have played very well for their clubs. These players will add to our depth and they could certainly play international rugby.’

Townsend also revealed an extended deal is in the offing for South Africa-born former France prop Pieter de Villiers, who has overseen a marked improvement in Scotland’s scrum since joining the set-up before the Six Nations.

‘We are doing all we can to ensure Pieter is going to be with us in the long-term,’ he added. ‘It has not been announced yet but certainly there is a commitment from both parties that that will be the case.

‘We are so pleased with the scrum performance and the work Pieter has done. The stats suggest we had the best scrum in the competition. There is a lot to be encouraged about there.’

Written by Bryn Palmer

Letter: Battle for Duhan van der Merwe