Following the completion of the Six Nations, Duhan van der Merwe has been identified as one of five players who should be considered for Warren Gatland’s British & Irish Lions squad.
It was confirmed last week that the eight-match Lions tour of South Africa will go ahead as initially planned, after months of speculation that the event could be relocated to the UK or postponed amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
As is the case with the make-up of composite sides, especially one as all-important and rare as the Lions squad, there are always surprise inclusions and omissions.
Reputable rugby website The Ruck has compiled a five-man list of Lions bolters with Van der Merwe coming in at No 3. The other possible candidates for selection are Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit, Ireland’s Hugo Keenan and Ronan Kelleher and England’s Sam Simmonds.
On its identification of Van der Merwe as a Lions bolter, The Ruck wrote: ‘He made a try-scoring debut for Scotland in their Autumn Nations Cup victory over Georgia last October. He backed up his form to score the only try in Scotland’s famous 11-6 victory over England at Twickenham Stadium and to kick-start his first Six Nations campaign, which saw the wing score braces against Italy and then France, with his final score securing a late 27-23 victory in Paris.’
The 25-year-old South African-born wing was largely impressive in his debut Six Nations campaign during which he beat a tournament-record 31 defenders and finished as the Championship’s top try-scorer with five tries.
In a previous interview with SA Rugby magazine, Van der Merwe spoke candidly about his dream of fronting the Springboks in a Lions jersey.
‘If given the opportunity, I would definitely want to play for the British & Irish Lions. I think it is the biggest honour you can achieve in world rugby.
‘I played at school level and Junior Springboks, so I naturally always wanted to play for the Springboks. I would be honoured to play at Test level against the world champions and my home country … it would be really cool lining up against South Africa. I’d love it.’
Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP