Duhan van der Merwe has said that criticism on social media only serves to motivate him and that he is ‘buzzing’ to return to South Africa as a Lions player.
The 26-year-old Van der Merwe made his Lions debut against Scotland, scoring an opportunistic try in the process. His debut has been just reward for the man who has become one of the standout wingers in world rugby.
Despite his success for Scotland, Van der Merwe admits that he still receives criticism on social media from people questioning whether he should play for the Lions.
”You get the odd comment here and there about ‘He was born in South Africa, he shouldn’t be representing Scotland the Lions, he’s going back to South Africa and he shouldn’t be representing the Lions,’ all those kinds of bits.
“I’ve just been ignoring the stuff that people have been saying on social media and those bits. I know how I feel in my heart sitting here representing the Lions and that’s all that matters.”
When asked whether that type of criticism motivated him, Van der Merwe was unequivocal. “Yes, it does.”
The man from George has made it clear that the support of his family and friends are all that matters and that he is excited to be returning to South Africa to face the Springboks.
“If you asked me when I left South Africa if I ever thought I would represent the British and Irish Lions in South Africa, I would probably have said no. I’m absolutely buzzing being involved and I’m looking forward to being there.
“All my friends are excited to watch the games live on TV and my family is backing me, which is the most important thing. They’re all behind me.”
Van der Merwe is better placed than most to understand what the Springboks will bring, and he has admitted that his ability to speak Afrikaans may be an asset for the Lions.
“A lot of us know what kind of game-plan South Africa are going to bring – they’re big, physical men. They haven’t played for so long, who knows what else they’re going to bring.
“I obviously speak Afrikaans, so if I hear something on the field, I will feed it back to the boys, to be honest.”
Van der Merwe will be hoping to retain the starting jersey for the Lions after a solid outing against Japan. Sterner tests lie ahead in South Africa.