'Give me the ball and I'll sprint' - how Duhan van der Merwe won over Finn Russell
The 6’4, 106kg Van Der Merwe is set to leave Edinburgh for Worcester Warriors at the end of the season, but he’s certainly made a splash at Test level since his try-scoring debut against Georgia last October and has gone on to score four tries in six outings in total.
Russell, who played against Van der Merwe whilst playing for Glasgow Warriors, told The Offload that he didn’t much like the big South African when he first encountered him.
“I only first met him in November. Before we came into camp I wouldn’t have been his biggest fan.
“When we were playing for Glasgow and we were playing for Edinburgh, I was thinking ‘Who’s this guy’, you know. He was walking around, thinking he’s it.
“I’ve had a couple of goes at him on the pitch, tried to wind him up a few times which is quite funny.
“Coming in here [Scotland camp], after the Georgia game we had a few beers and I got on with him really well. He’s a really nice guy actually.
“The first thing he said to me was ‘Give me the ball and I’ll sprint’, which I found hilarious. I said if you want the ball, I’ll give it to you, don’t worry.”
Former Scotland No.8 Ryan Wilson asked him how the pair communicated, given that the South African-born winger’s English is ‘pretty ropey’ and Finn’s Scottish accent is ‘pretty broad’.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 11, 2021
“It’s simple. I just give him the ball and he sprints.”
“He’s been good for us this year, obviously powerful and quick which is helpful. He’s scored a couple of good tries already.”
Van der Merwe spoke last year about how he and Russell had found an on-field understanding, which led to a try on debut for the hulking winger.
“Finn was actually saying, ‘just run on my inside’. I did and he put me away.”
It’s an exciting partnership and one that’ll surely have Scotland fans salivating at the prospect of it continuing into the future.
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