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VIDEO: 'I could just go out and be Edwill'

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The name Edwill van der Merwe has been making headlines following the Springboks’ opening match of the international season against Wales on Saturday.

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In the absence of injured stars Cheslin Kolbe and Canan Moodie, and Kurt-Lee Arende on duty for the Bulls’ United Rugby Championship (URC) Grand Final against Glasgow, the door opened for Edwill van der Merwe.

There was a bit of apprehension with his selection in the starting XV, but the wing quickly shut down any doubt and produced a sublime performance during the 41-13 win over Wales at Twickenham Stadium.

Making his debut, the 28-year-old stole the show with his sensational workrate and claimed the man-of-the-match award.

He showed his lethal attack, a trait that has made him one of the best wings in the United Rugby Championship, with an incredible solo try. He stepped past two Welsh forwards and out-sprinted the cover defence to score the Boks’ fourth try in typical wing fashion.

In addition to his attack, the wing’s defence is what truly impressed the Springbok fans.

Van der Merwe made two brilliant tackles in a matter of seconds in the 23rd minute. He took down Welsh wing Liam Williams, before quickly getting to his feet and dragging down centre Mason Grady, who looked set for the tryline.

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“It was an incredible experience to play my first Test and it was very humbling to earn the man-of-the-match award,”  Van der Merwe said after the win.

“The way we prepared in the last two weeks has given me a lot of confidence in the system and I could just be myself.

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“There was no real nervousness, so I could just go out and be Edwill.

“The guys around me like Jesse Kriel and Makazole Mapimpi gave me a lot of confidence by always chatting to me, which made my job easier.”

“It was a great day at the office and hopefully not the last one.”

While we have to keep in mind it was against a very inexperienced Wales side, the Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus gave the Lions star the thumbs up and confirmed he is in the inside lane for selection for the two-Test series against Ireland if injuries disrupt the squad.

“With doubts over Cheslin Kolbe and Willie le Roux for the series against Ireland, Van der Merwe has thrown his name well and truly into the mix,” Erasmus said.

The Springboks take on Ireland on July 6 at Loftus Versfeld followed by a Test at Kings Park on July 13.

Player Profile:

Edwill van der Merwe was raised in Kylemore, a small town near Stellenbosch. He was born on April 12, 1996 and began his rugby journey during his schooling years at Paul Roos Gymnasium, a place known for producing top rugby talent.

Van der Merwe represented the Junior Springboks in 2016 and scored three tries in his four appearances. He went on to set a try-scoring record during his four years with Maties in the Varsity Cup.

The wing made his Super Rugby debut for the Stormers in their match against the Sunwolves in June 2019, starting on the left wing.

He made 13 appearances in the Stormers jersey before joining the Lions in 2021.

At the Lions, the wing made 55 appearances for the team and has been in fine form. In March the 28-year-old became the first South African-based player to hit 20 United Rugby Championship tries.

 

 

 

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