The incredible wing South Africa lost
STAT ATTACK: The number of players leaving South Africa for greener pastures has been increasing over the years.
The lure of the British Pound or the Euro is hard for some players to ignore, while for others there are just more opportunities to progress in the game in the north.
One player who has certainly progressed in his time in the United Kingdom is wing Duhan van der Merwe.
The Western Cape-born player played schoolboy rugby for Hoerskool Outeniqua and represented various South Western Districts Eagles age-group teams before joining the Blue Bulls academy after high school.
He then went on to represent South Africa Under-20 at the 2014 Junior World Championship in New Zealand.
Van der Merwe only represented the Bulls in a couple of domestic first-class matches before he left for France to join Montpellier in 2016.
His stay with the French giants was short and he soon found himself at Scottish club Edinburgh in 2017.
It is his time in Scotland where his career has well and truly kicked on and he is now regarded as one of the game’s top attackers in the north.
According to Opta’s statistics, since his debut for Edinburgh, “Van der Merwe is the top-ranking player in the Pro14 for tries (24), metres (2673), clean breaks (73) and defenders beaten (199)”.
His overall try tally for Edinburgh stands at 31 since joining them three years ago.
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1 – Since his @EdinburghRugby debut, @duhanvdmerwe is the top ranking player in the @PRO14Official for tries (24), metres (2673), clean breaks (73) and defenders beaten (199). Celebration. https://t.co/ZnRK32PNVr
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) June 4, 2020
It is incredible numbers for the 25-year-old and that is why it comes as no surprise that Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has an eye on him for future Tests.
Van der Merwe, who is the brother of Springbok hooker Akker van der Merwe, recently became eligible for Scotland on residence grounds and Townsend has been in contact with him.
“We obviously see him as someone who would have been in the mix for summer [July] tour,” Townsend revealed to Scottish media last month.
“He’s an excellent player. He’s shown this season a different level of play as well. His work off the ball has been excellent and his defence has been up there as well. He is quick, he’s strong, he makes a lot of line breaks and tackle breaks and he is a young player who will get better the more he plays.”
It would have been interesting to see Van der Merwe come up against the Boks in July, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will just have to wait a bit longer before he puts on that Scotland jersey.
Additional sources: Opta stats & heraldscotland.com