Edinburgh winger Duhan van der Merwe can’t wait for Friday’s clash against the Vodacom Bulls, and the prospect of facing his older sibling Akker in the heat of battle.
The Scottish outfit host the Bulls in round 5 of the Vodacom URC at the Hive Stadium. The South Africans climbed into first place on the standings with a victory against Cardiff last week, while Edinburgh edged Connacht at home.
The fixture not only promises a formidable challenge for SA-born Scotland international Van der Merwe, but a reunion with three-Test Springbok hooker Akker, who joined the Bulls in the off-season from Sale Sharks.
Reflecting on the sibling rivalry, Duhan told Edinburgh’s official website: “In junior rugby I played for the Bulls as well. I know a couple of their players and he is over here so I am really looking forward to it. A couple of years ago when Edinburgh played Sale Sharks he was at Sale Sharks in the Champions Cup, so 1-0 to me.
“He has scored a few tries, typical hooker tries off a maul but he is enjoying it and if we play against each other it will be quite exciting.
“Hopefully he doesn’t come down my channel and hopefully I don’t go down his channel, but if we have to get stuck into each other it is what it is…
“They came up on Saturday morning after they played Cardiff so I saw him after the game and a couple of their boys came to our game but I think he left after 60 minutes as it was too cold!”
Aware of the Bulls’ dominance and physical prowess, Van der Merwe acknowledges the task ahead: “They have won two out of three of their away games and are top of the table which is really good but so were Connacht, so this is another big challenge for us at the weekend playing against the Bulls.
“They are big physical men and we have to stop them and beat them.”
Returning to the fold after representing Scotland at the Rugby World Cup, the 28-year-old is fired up and ready to make an impact on the season.
“To be honest, I was buzzing to come back,” he said. “Initially, at the time when we lost against Ireland, I wasn’t in a great place and felt like I needed some time off. Physically, I felt very good; mentally, it was quite tough.
“I had a phone call with Sean [Everitt] and said, ‘look, is there any chance I can get some extra time off?’ and he managed to give me an extra week off. I’m very grateful for that and I feel really refreshed and ready to go for the season.”
As the recipient of the World Rugby Try of the Year, Van der Merwe modestly attributes his success to luck but acknowledges the joy of the accolade.
“I look back at it and I still can’t quite believe that I managed to score that. Everyone’s been saying, ‘congrats, congrats’,” he added. “All I can say is. ‘yeah, mate, it’s all luck!’ I’ll take it and I’m very happy with the award.”
Photo: Ben Evans/Gallo Images