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Duhan van der Merwe lays bare his British & Irish Lions ambitions

By Bryn Palmer
(Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

Scotland wing Duhan van der Merwe insists he doesn’t need a summer off and would love to go on their forthcoming tour of North and South America as head coach Gregor Townsend weighs up which of his senior players to leave behind.

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The prolific Edinburgh flyer has 26 tries in 39 Tests and Stuart Hogg’s all-time record of 27 in his sights after adding five to his tally during this year’s Six Nations.

A season that began with World Cup training camps in early June last summer is heading into its final month, before Scotland depart on 29 June for a four-week expedition featuring Tests against Canada, United States, Chile and Uruguay.

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With a British and Irish Lions tour to Australia also looming on the horizon in 2025, Townsend is likely to rest some of his frontline operators and name a squad with development in mind.

But asked whether he was likely to be given an extended break, Van der Merwe said: “No. I love playing for Scotland. I feel like by playing more I get better and better. I love the environment and it’s something I want to be a part of.

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“If given the opportunity I’d love to go. I’ve done my pre-season in the World Cup and feel my body is good to go for the next two or three years. I’ll do another one [pre-season] after that but I’d love to go.”

The 28-year-old was one of eight Scotland players selected for the last, Covid-affected, Lions tour of South Africa in 2021, scoring five tries in the warm-up games and starting all three Tests.

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“It’s something I’d love to go on again to be honest,” he said. “I didn’t have the full experience the first time I went and missed out on that.

“I’d absolutely love to play for the Lions again in front of our fans and travelling support and have a good night out with the lads. I couldn’t experience that but if I can go [to Australia] then I’d be a happy man.

“But my focus is playing well for Edinburgh so I can play for Scotland and if I play well for Scotland, then hopefully I can go again.”

Van der Merwe has scored more tries for his country – nine in 11 Tests since the World Cup warm-up games last summer – than his club this season, with seven in 15 games for Edinburgh since returning from the global tournament in France.

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His relatively modest strike-rate has been a source of family banter, with elder brother Akker, the Bulls hooker, having nine URC tries to his name this term and only Glasgow hooker Johnny Matthews ahead of him.

“He’s got more than me!” Van der Merwe grinned. “I think he’s sitting second on the URC. It’s all maul tries though; I can do that as well.

“He’s been getting stuck into me saying he’s scored more but I just said, ‘potentially a double or a hat-trick and we’re all square again’.”

The brothers could end up facing each other in the URC play-offs with the Bulls in prime position for a top-four finish and Edinburgh aiming to cement their place in the top eight.

“It would be absolutely brilliant if we go down there to play against them,” Van der Merwe said. “Unfortunately I couldn’t play against him when we beat them here so anything can happen in the next couple of weeks and it’s all in our hands.”

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Van der Merwe admits he was frustrated at a lack of chances to add to his try tally in last week’s 40-14 win over Zebre, but insists personal targets are a secondary concern with Edinburgh seeking to move a step closer to the play-offs with victory over defending champions Munster this Friday.

“Sometimes you see the opportunities and I don’t get the ball and I get frustrated but that’s where I need to be the better player and not get frustrated and lose my head because I’m part of a team,” he added.

“If I get a couple [of tries] I’m a happy man but I’m not too focused on that. I just want to do my job and help the team out so we can get to a quarter-final and hopefully a semi-final and hopefully win the URC. I’ve been at the club a very long time and this club can win something and hopefully it’s this season.

“We want to get back into the Champions Cup and play against the best and we feel as a club we can compete against the best in the world.”

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Comments

4 Comments
N
Nool 63 days ago

This Outiniqua boy has played sublime rugby and deserves a spot in BI LIONS team. Well played son

f
finn 64 days ago

I’m surprised Scotland are planning to rest key players this summer - I don’t think any other tier 1 nation will be doing the same?

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Jon 1 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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