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Lions' try-machine dazzles in Currie Cup

Lions speedster Edwill van der Merwe has taken the sports quote ‘there are no speed limits on the road to success’ quite literally as he tears up the pitches across the country in his quest to score tries.

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The superfast wing loves speed, loves to score spectacular tries but does not shy away from the physical aspect of the game, and has put in some devastating try saving tackles as well.

The 27-year old Edwill Charl van der Merwe was born in Stellenbosch and schooled at the prestigious Paul Roos Gymnasium before attending Stellenbosch University where he represented Maties.

He made his senior debut for Western Province in 2016 and for the Stormers in Super Rugby against the Sunwolves in 2019.

He then made the huge decision to switch allegiance from the team he was born into and head to Johannesburg, where he has excelled.

Rugby365 spoke to Van der Merwe about his need for his speed, his sporting genes and which coaches had the most influence on his career.

Van der Merwe revealed that he wasn’t a sprinter at school and not the fastest on the athletics team. A quick look at his social media platforms reveal his motto in life is indeed: “IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT.”

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“I did athletics at school, but I was never the fastest in my school. I preferred the 400 as it is a good test of speed and endurance which I enjoyed,” the wing explained.

And unlike most rugby players in South Africa, this flying wing did not inherit his good sporting genes from his father, but rather from his netball playing mom.

“I don’t really have big rugby names in my family. My mom was a netball player when she was younger and I’ve heard I get my skills from her.”

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Watching Van der Merwe score those two long-distance tries against Western Province a week ago, one would have thought that he does a lot of speed work in training. But Van der Merwe says he prefers explosive work in the gym.

“I mostly do explosive work in the gym compared to speed training as I feel that has a direct translation to the field,” he explains.

Before his move to Gauteng, he scored five tries in nine games for the Stormers in 2021. The change of address did not hold him back as he continued with his impressive ability to step, glide, accelerate and dive over the whitewash some more.

“The biggest adjustment was being far away from family and close friends for the first time in my life, but the move has been easy because I’ve been welcomed with open arms at the Lions, which I really appreciate. Also having my fiancé in Joburg helps a lot.”

Asked about coaches that played an integral part in his development as a player, Van der Merwe singles out Albert Fullard, an ex-Matie who played Varsity Cup, and current Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie, as the people who have heavily influenced him.

“Coach Albert ran Maties schools clinic every Friday after school which I attended from Grade 7 until matric and he helped develop the skills I have now, like stepping and passing.

“Coach Hawies has been the other major influence in my career when I started at Maties in 2016 and he has really taken me under his wing and developed me as a player and person. We still have a very good relationship up until today,” Van der Merwe told 365.

Van der Merwe has come to enjoy watching rugby league and follow players like Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell while he still enjoys following players he admired as a youngster like Dillyn Leyds and Cheslin Kolbe.

The Lions winger has all the qualities of a top rated wing and higher accolades are bound to follow.

Like he commented on one of his Instagram posts with a video of him soaring over the try-line: “I love being underestimated. It makes my story have an ever better ending.”

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