Despite a brace of tries of his own, Edinburgh halfback Nic Groom praised his team-mate Duhan van der Merwe and said he was “good enough” for test rugby. The young winger had a massive run down the touchline, carrying the ball in one hand and beating two defenders before looping it inside to Groom for the halfback’s second try in Edinburgh’s PRO14 win over rivals Glasgow Warriors on Saturday night.
Van der Merwe (6’4, 106kg) is the brother of Springbok hooker Akker, who plays for Sale Sharks in the English Premiership division, and has qualified by residency for Scotland, and if Groom has anything to do with it, he believes Van der Merwe will make an easy transition to test rugby.
“I owe Duhan a lot of beers. He put me over once or twice. I’ve been waiting, he is an incredible player with ball in hand and my philosophy is that if I just remain close to him, I’ll be in the right place,” he laughed after the game.
Asked if he thought Van der Merwe was international quality, it wasn’t even a flash before Groom affirmed this.
“I think so, I don’t think many people will argue with that. His form has proved that and think he has improved immensely over the season. He has added a lot to his game.”
Groom also had praise for his halfback partner, former Lions utility back Jaco van der Walt, who claimed the man of the match award at flyhalf with 15 points on the night.
“Jaco looked really good, he has really stepped up running the attack. We will keep on working as 9s and 10s to keep the team on the front foot. Obviously now you get a lot more lineouts because of the penalties and kicking for touch. That’s when the cogs start turning, we’ve had three lineouts here and where do we go from here.
“How do we vary it and he has managed it very well.”
Groom was delighted with the victory, and claiming the 1872 Cup and securing Edinburgh’s place in the semifinals of the PRO14.
“I always thought we would come through, we would have the edge, but it is good how we stuck to our guns. We’ve put a premium on how we train, so it was good to get the win. It’s the first bit of silverware for us this year.”
But he did understand some of the frustration about the high penalty count, although he believed it was simply teething problems for the return to play.
“The first half was a bit tricky. I’ve never really played a game against guys like this that hasn’t been serious. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around it yet. You could see a lot of penalties, and judging from some of the previous games that have been played, that was to be expected. It was tough to get going and tough to build phases and when we did hold the ball, we looked alright and it gave us confidence.
“If you’ve seen the previous rugby played, the penalty count has been massive. We expected the penalties, and we tried hard to be disciplined. There are different focus laws for the refs and there are different breakdown laws, so it would always take a bit of time to get used to the change. I think it is what we expected it to be.”
The two sides clash again on Friday night in the return PRO14 fixture, before the playoff rounds the following week.
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