Edinburgh Rugby wing Duhan van der Merwe admits that his impending Scotland debut was far from his mind when he signed for the club three years ago.
The South African-born wing arrived in the summer of 2017 and qualified to play for his adopted homeland during the COVID-19 shutdown.
When opportunity knocks “I’m definitely keen to take it”
He’ll likely get a first opportunity to pull on the thistle in the Autumn, with Scotland set to finish their Guinness Six Nations campaign against Wales before a friendly at home to Georgia and then Autumn Nations Cup matches against Italy, Fiji, and France.
And the winger, named the 2019/20 Guinness PRO14 Players’ Player of the Year, is looking forward to getting the opportunity to play international rugby.
We've said it before, we'll say it again: don't mess with the @duhanvdmerwe 👊
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) August 22, 2020
“When I signed, they [the club] said ‘if you stay for three years, you’d be Scottish qualified but where my rugby was at that point, I never thought I could have a shot of playing for Scotland and playing international rugby,” he said, in an interview published by the PRO14 after the award was announced.
“It just shows you a lot can change in a couple of years. If I do get that opportunity, I’m definitely keen to give it a shot.”
Competition aplenty for Scottish back three
While van der Merwe is quick to acknowledge the level of competition in the Scotland back three, he’s almost certain to wear the dark blue of his adopted homeland during the Autumn Nations Cup, if not before.
Longer-term, he’ll compete with Sean Maitland – determined he can still do a job for Scotland while playing in the Championship with Saracens – as well as his Edinburgh colleagues Darcy Graham and Blair Kinghorn, Glasgow Warriors duo Kyle Steyn and Ratu Tagive, and Sale’s Byron McGuigan, for spots in the back three.
“There’s a lot of competition there,” van der Merwe said, while adding, “that’s what makes you a better player.
“I have to perform for my club to get that shot and when I do get that shot, I have to be on it, because there are other boys who are hungry as well.”
Duhan van der Merwe British and Irish Lions prospect
And if he can replicate the successes of his 2019/20 season, the powerful wing could be a ‘bolter’ for the 2021 British and Irish Lions squad, although he acknowledges time is against him to make an impact. “If I can get on the scene in international rugby and perform, why wouldn’t I want to play for the British and Irish Lions – that’s the best of the best.
“If I can get that opportunity, I’d be stoked but time might not be on my side.
“We’ll see what happens.”
2020/21 Guinness Pro14 fixture: Round One – Edinburgh v Ospreys, Sunday, October 4
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images