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Speculation that Duhan van der Merwe could join Racing has ended

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Pablo Gasparini/ AFP via Getty Images)

The rumoured move of Duhan van der Merwe from cash-strapped Worcester to Racing 92 has reportedly ended with the Parisians instead turning their attentions to bringing in Christian Wade, the ex-England international who guested for them at a recent sevens rugby event in Pau.

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With new signing Regan Grace unavailable until 2023 following his serious injury last month when playing for St Helens in the English Super League, a vacancy exists on the Racing roster for the new Top 14 campaign that began with last weekend’s home win over Castres.

The issue regarding the delayed payment of salaries at Worcester opened the door to players there opting to leave due to breach of contract by the club.

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It was this free agency potential that piqued the Racing interest regarding the possibility of bringing in van der Merwe, the South African whose change of allegiance to Scotland put him on track to play for the 2021 Lions who toured his native country.

However, this alleged recent flirtation between Racing and van der Merwe has ended (he has also been linked with Toulon), with the Parisian club instead poised to bring in Wade who scored two tries in his first sevens match for them last month. That was his first rugby match of any kind since October 2018 when he exited Wasps to try his luck in the American NFL with Buffalo Bills.

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With ex-All Blacks midfielder Francis Saili quickly recruited from Biarritz following the sad retirement this week of Virimi Vakatawa due to a heart condition, the next player recruitment on the Racing agenda is getting Wade on board on a one-year deal. A report in Friday’s edition of Midi Olympique read: “The English winger Christian Wade (31 years old, 1 selection) will also join the group.

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“The man with 99 tries with the Wasps, who ended his rugby career in 2018 to join the Buffalo Bills NFL (American football) club, had expressed the wish to return to rugby union. As a result, the track leading to Scottish international Duhan van der Merwe (27, 18 caps) has been buried.

“What do Saili and Wade have in common? Both would only have signed up for one season. No coincidence, as a reflection is currently being carried out in the Hauts-de-Seine on the three-quarter line.”

This reported signing by Racing of Wade is at odds, though, with what the player tweeted last week about his situation. He posted on September 1: “My return to rugby is imminent…” He then teasingly added: “London.” This resulted in followers on his account believing he had signed for an English capital city club, but Friday’s report from France now suggests otherwise.

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