South African-born wing DTH van der Merwe will realise a long-held dream when he starts for Canada against the Springboks in Kobe on Tuesday.
The match will be just the third time the two nations face each other, with the last fixture won by the Springboks in a Test that featured current coach Rassie Erasmus.
However, the game will take on a special significance for Van Der Merwe, who gets to play against his country of birth for the first time in his 60-Tests career.
‘Something I’ve looked forward to my whole career is to play against South Africa,’ Van der Merwe told local reporters. ‘Now at your last World Cup it’s quite special. I did play against them in the sevens back in the day but I’m looking forward to the opportunity.’
Van der Merwe was born in Worcester and played for Boland’s U16 team, but his family emigrated to Canada in 2003. The experienced wing has had stints with the Scarlets and Newcastle Falcons as well as with Saracens and currently plays for the Glasgow Warriors, where he has spent most of his career.
The 33-year-old said he is in no doubt of how tough a challenge it will be for Canada to match the power of the Springboks’ pack.
‘They have got a physical pack that’s complemented with a real speedy backline,’ Van der Merwe said. ‘For us it’s a great opportunity just to measure ourselves against one of the best teams in the world.’
Canada – 15 Andrew Coe; 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Conor Trainor, 12 Ciaran Hearn, 11 DTH van der Merwe; 10 Peter Nelson, 9 Phil Mack; 8 Tyler Ardron (c), 7 Matt Heaton, 6 Lucas Rumball; 5 Kyle Baillie, 4 Evan Olmstead; 3 Jake Ilnicki, 2 Andrew Quattrin, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Subs: 16 Benoit Piffero, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Matt Tierney, 19 Josh Larsen, 20 Michael Sheppard, 21 Jamie Mackenzie, 22 Shane O’Leary, 23 Guiseppe du Toit.
Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images