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Ex-Scotland 10 makes previously unthinkable Duhan van der Merwe call

By Josh Raisey
Scotland's Duhan Van Der Merwe looks dejected during a Guinness Six Nations match between France and Scotland at the Stade de France, on February 26, 2023, in Paris, France. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Former Scotland fly-half Ruaridh Jackson has asserted that Glasgow Warriors winger Kyle Steyn is a better player than Duhan van der Merwe and should start ahead of him for Scotland.


Steyn led Glasgow Warriors to an unexpected United Rugby Championship title win this season, defeating the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in the final on Saturday a week after beating then-reigning champions Munster at Thomond Park.

The 30-year-old has been magnificent for the Warriors since returning from injury in January, which led to Jackson making this comparison between the two players on X, saying the only thing van der Merwe can do better is “score the odd freak try”.

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Jake White reflects on what went wrong

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Jake White reflects on what went wrong

There is no denying that 2021 British & Irish Lions wing possesses that oft-overused ‘X-factor’ in Test rugby standing at 1.93m and weighing 106kg, and he has a highlights reel to back that up.

While the fellow South African-born Scot does not have a highlights reel to rival the Edinburgh wing’s, there are few, if any, weaknesses in his game.

“Something I’ve said for a long time but wonder if more people agree now,” the 33-cap Scot wrote on X.


“Kyle Steyn is better than Duhan VDM. Only thing VDM can do better is score the odd freak try.

“Scotland back 3 should be Darcy, Steyn, kinghorn and bring VDM on against tired defences.”

Of course, there are two wing berths that can be shared between Steyn and van der Merwe for Scotland, as they did for much of the Six Nations this year. However, Jackson believes the other spot should be taken by Darcy Graham, with van der Merwe being used from the bench to exploit tired defences.

Graham’s pace and agility make him just as potent as van der Merwe out wide, so Scotland would not be lacking in individual brilliance should Gregor Townsend follow Jackson’s advice. He has, however, been beset by injuries recently and will miss Scotland’s July tour as he recovers from surgery to his groin, meaning Jackson will not get to see his preferred back three of Graham, Steyn and Blair Kinghorn at fullback.

Scotland’s upcoming July series, against Canada, the USA, Chile and Uruguay, perhaps affords Townsend the opportunity to experiment more than he usually would during a Test window, meaning it may not even be Steyn and van der Merwe starting on either flank.

The uncapped Arron Reed will surely get plenty of game time over the coming weeks to prove what he can do, as will the four-cap Kyle Rowe and the one-cap Harry Paterson in the back three.


Van der Merwe has been a mainstay of the Scotland line-up in recent seasons, but with Fiji, South Africa, Portugal and Australia visiting in November, Townsend will want to field his preferred back three and it will be interesting to see if van der Merwe is part of it.



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Frank 28 days ago

Jacko is not often wrong and he's right again. Duhan has an attacking X factor, but Steyn is a much more rounded winger.

KiwiSteve 30 days ago

He is also Scottish

Mark 30 days ago

This decision is not ‘previously unthinkable’ if you have any decent level of rugby knowledge. I have said since the 2023 six nations that duhan should not play against top tier sides. Despite being a great runner with the ball, every other aspect of his game is next to non-existent. He also shys away and tends to get no successful carries against good teams that can actually defend. Steyn on the other hand is one of the safest all round wingers in the world. Darcy Graham is our attacking winger, steyn should be the safe one.
Doesnt take a genius to work this one out.
Vs south Africa in the world Cup, they wpuld not have scored the cross field kick try is steyn was playing, because he wpuldn’t have wandered 30 meters from his touchline to make 0 impact

rory 30 days ago

Interesting that SA known for the “size” or “bulk” of its players make use of pocket battleships like Colby and Arendse on the wing. And then another v d Merwe joins them.

Rob 30 days ago

The algorithm has censored my comment about his horrible defence and inability to do anything in attack against poor wingers, guess this is why people are only realising this now

Colin 30 days ago

Both South Africans. Will Scotland not invest in Scottish youth rugby to produce Scottish players or are they hooked on off the shelf Saffers?

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