Former Stormers, Wales and British & Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts has backed Duhan van der Merwe to make a significant impact in the Lions’ three-Test series against the Springboks.
After three consistent seasons in the Scottish capitol, Van der Merwe qualified for Scotland through the residency law and has been on a upward trajectory since.
Since making his debut against Georgia last October, the 25-year-old has won 10 Test caps and scored eight tries, an impressive feat that gained him selection in the 37-man Lions squad for their upcoming tour of his native South Africa.
Concerns over his defensive deficiencies have led many to believe Van der Merwe will not make the Lions Test team to front the Boks, but Roberts insists that playing him on the wing in the series will provide balance to the Lions side.
‘When I think about the Lions backline, I think it has to cover all bases. I think it has to have tactical nous, power, pace and footwork,’ Roberts told World Rugby.
‘I think Conor Murray and Dan Biggar are in pole position to start as the halfback axis with their tactical ability and control of the game, so I will go with them.
‘I think Robbie Henshaw has to play in the midfield, but I think alongside Owen Farrell. I think Farrell as a second receiver, a second kicker, with Henshaw at 13.
‘That for me means Duhan van der Merwe comes in on the wing as a ball-carrier. I’d love to see him on the wing as a ball-carrying option. I have a feeling he is going to light up South Africa.
‘Then I’d go Anthony Watson. He’s been on form and he’s fantastic in the air and has footwork and pace. And I would go Stuart Hogg at fullback.’