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'He will be a handful': Springboks assistant coach wary of threat posed by South African-born Duhan van der Merwe

By Sam Smith

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Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids says Duhan van der Merwe will be a ‘handful’ during the British and Irish Lions series.


The South African-born Scotland star will make his first appearance in the famous red jersey against Japan at Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday.

Van der Merwe earned his place in Warren Gatland’s squad after an impressive 2021 Six Nations campaign for Scotland. He was the tournament’s leading try-scorer with five tries.

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Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids talks about South African-born flyer Duhan van der Merwe in the B&I Lions squad
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Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids talks about South African-born flyer Duhan van der Merwe in the B&I Lions squad

The 26-year-old, who will be joining English club Worcester Warriors ahead of the new season, was one of the Pro14’s best players over the last few seasons when he played for Edinburgh.

“Duhan van Der Merwe has been a quality player since his George days with Warrick Gelant at Outeniqua High School,” Davids said.

“They were an excellent team and I had the privilege of watching them play at school and then watching their progress into the SA Schools team.

Davids explained that Van der Merwe was a great prospect for South Africa, but his future became clouded over injuries.


“He was a great prospect for us going forward, but unfortunately a couple of injuries over the years actually became stumbling blocks in his progress,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it is good to see that he overcame all of these obstacles. He had standout performances in the past few years for his club Edinburgh and also for Scotland.

“I think he deserves his place in the Lions squad. He is a big strong wing, and he has that exceptional ability to finish.

“He will be a handful and we are looking forward to having him on South African turf playing against us.”


Van der Merwe also shared his side of his story on a recent Lions Origins profile, explaining that it was his older brother Akker van der Merwe who pushed him to keep going after he thought about giving the game up while in South Africa.

“At the age of 15 I wanted to give up rugby and play a different sport,” he said.

“He got me into the gym on the field doing extra stuff. He always believed in me, even when things weren’t going that well after school, he backed me to make the move to come abroad and play.

“I’ll always look up to him for always backing me.”

As for how he came to don Scottish colours, Van der Merwe explained that his career only got going once he landed in Edinburgh.

“I went to the Bulls after school, and things didn’t work out as I wanted them to,” he said on Lions Origins

“I decided to leave, went to Montpellier and then onto Edinburgh. That’s where my career actually started.

The Scottish club gave him a chance to stay despite arriving in no shape to play, requiring hip surgery, but the gamble paid off handsomely.

“Failing a medical, I thought ‘that’s me probably done’ but I got a lifeline from Edinburgh.”


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