Duhan van der Merwe – The Lions’ very own ‘Bok’ who grew up near Cape Town – promises to take South African sledding in his stride as winger prepares to battle ‘world best’ Cheslin Kolbe
- Duhan van der Merwe insists he will not be influenced by verbal abuse
- The 26-year-old wing insists he has nothing to prove to South Africans
- Van der Merwe described Cheslin Kolbe as ‘one of the best in the world’
- The Lions star admits his friends and family will support the Springboks
A few hours’ drive from Cape Town, Duhan van der Merwe grew up in familiar surroundings on Saturday.
He played rugby with a handful of Springboks as a schoolboy and even supported them through the World Cup final before choosing to play for Scotland.
However, the giant wing does not expect a friendly ‘welcome home’. Warren Gatland has warned him to prepare for a barrage of African sleds.
Duhan van der Merwe (center) played as a schoolboy with some Springbok playersspeler
Lions coach Warren Gatland has warned Van der Merwe to be prepared for relentless sledding
“In every game you play, you always get some swear words,” said Van der Merwe. ‘People get stuck inside you. I’m used to it. People can say whatever they want. I’ll just go out and do my thing.’
So far, Van der Merwe has put everything on his feet during this tour. He was even awarded the team’s ‘Bobby Cup’ award by Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger. He has beaten defenders, scored tries and met the limited defensive challenges thrown his way.
But on Saturday, he faces his toughest challenge yet. Van der Merwe is given the task of marking the majestic Cheslin Kolbe. He said: ‘Cheslin is a great player, probably one of the best in the world right now. It will be a big challenge for me.
“We’re different players and I’m looking forward to that fight. I’ve never played against him. He has very good feet, he is a fast boy and he throws his body around. His ability to beat guys one-on-one is amazing.
Van der Merwe described Cheslin Kolbe as ‘one of the best in the world’ and a ‘great challenge’
“It’s about staying with him and not giving him too much time on the ball. But when it’s my turn to have the ball and I have a chance at him, he has to defend me.’
Van der Merwe has been given freedom to roam. Gatland has ordered him to appear around the field and move off his wing to make the most of his ability, beating defenders with strength and speed. It’s the perfect opportunity to show the South Africans what they’ve been missing.
But the 26-year-old insists he is not motivated by proving the doubters wrong. He said, ‘I have nothing to prove. It’s been six years, so I don’t have sour grapes.
“A few people ask me how it feels and it’s a little weird. My family and my friends are buzzing for me, but many of them are of course going to support the Springboks.
‘Normally when I come back, I’m on vacation. I haven’t had that this time because I know we’re here to get a job done and win the series.”