Duhan van der Merwe: “I would fancy our chances at Scotstoun”

Edinburgh winger backs his team "against anyone" - but would especially relish a URC quarter-final against the Warriors

Duhan van der Merwe
Duhan van der Merwe during Edinburgh's home game against Scarlets last month. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

THERE may still be a plethora of permutations that need to fall into place before a Glasgow v Edinburgh URC quarter-final is confirmed, but make no mistake, the players in both teams are increasingly aware of the possibility – and of the growing public interest in it.

The table-topping Warriors are already all but certain of a top-four finish and the home quarter-final that goes with it, while Edinburgh, currently seventh with two regular-season games to go, still have a fight on their hands to ensure they stay in the top eight. Duhan van der Merwe, for one, believes his team not only have what it takes to remain there, but also the potential to win the trophy itself. And, although the Scotland winger would of course back his team to win a quarter-final wherever it were played, when interviewed at the Hive Stadium on Monday he admitted that the short trip to Scotstoun would be a particularly enticing prospect. 

“I knew that was coming!,” the 28-year-old said after being asked if he fancied a trip to Glasgow in the last eight. “Playing against Glasgow is always brilliant. Away at Scotstoun is never going to be easy – but I back ourselves against anyone, to be honest. 

“If that means we have to go to the Bulls, back to Munster or Glasgow or Leinster, whatever, I back ourselves. But yeah, I would say I fancy our chances at Scotstoun.

“You want to play against the best, and I feel like as a club we can compete against the best in the world. So it’s about getting the top eight and getting to a URC quarter-final, semi-final and move from there on.”

One reason why Edinburgh’s qualification for the play-offs remains in doubt is their inability to pick up more than a handful of try bonus points – the 40-14 win against Zebre last weekend saw them claim just their third of the league season following victories over the Bulls and Scarlets, their other bonus having been for a narrow defeat by Benetton. The failure of the attack to consistently fire on all cylinders has at times left Van der Merwe looking like an isolated figure on the left wing, but he insisted he was not worried about his own individual try tally as long as he could help the team as a whole to be successful.

“I just want to contribute towards the team and do my job. If I can get a couple [of tries] I’m a very happy man, but I’m not too focused on that, I’m just focused on helping the team out so we can get to a quarter-final and hopefully a semi-final and hopefully win the URC. 

“Because I’ve been at the club for a very long time and I do believe this club can win something – and hopefully we can win something this season.

“Sometimes when you play a team below you, you’re trying to get more on ball and get a try,” he continued when asked about the Zebre game. “But when it’s not your day, it’s not your day – and it wasn’t our day. The forwards did a really good job: they were unbelievable, and us backs will have to pick it up.

“I didn’t get loads [of ball]. Sometimes you see the opportunities and I don’t get the ball and I get frustrated, but that’s where I need to be the better player and not get frustrated and lose my head, because I’m part of the team. If I see these opportunities I’m going to back myself and call it, because I wouldn’t call it if I didn’t think I could score. Sometimes it’s a bit frustrating, but it is what it is, I guess.

“You have to give credit for Zebre. They’re sitting bottom of the log, but they are a hard team to beat and showed that on the weekend. We knew the first 40/50 minutes were never going to be easy, but there was the period where we switched off a bit and only towards the last 15 minutes we actually started playing again.”

While Van der Merwe did not get on the score sheet on Friday night, the following day his older brother Akker touched down for the Bulls in their win over the Warriors in Pretoria. “He’s got more than me,” the Edinburgh man said of the hooker. “I think he’s sitting second on the URC. He’s been getting stuck into me saying he’s scored more but I just said potentially a double or a hat-trick and we’re all square again.

“But nah, fair play. It would be absolutely brilliant if we go down there to play against them. Unfortunately I couldn’t play against him when we beat them here. Anything can happen in the next couple of weeks and it’s all in our hands.”

Whatever does occur over the rest of the URC campaign, however long Edinburgh are involved for, Van der Merwe insisted that he will be keen to tour North and South America with Scotland rather  than having a protracted summer holiday. 

“No, I love playing for Scotland. I feel like by playing more I get better and better. I love the environment and it’s something I want to be a part of. If given the opportunity I’d love to go. I’ve done my pre-season in the World Cup and feel my body is good to go for the next two or three years. I’ll do another one [World Cup] after that. But I’d love to go.”

Ideally Van der Merwe will be busy in the summer of 2025 too, as he hopes to be selected for the British & Irish Lions for the second time, following his inclusion in the 2021 party that went to South Africa. “It’s something I’d love to go on again, to be honest. 

“I didn’t have the full experience the first time I went, and missed out on that. I’d absolutely love to play for the Lions again in front of our fans and travelling support and have a good night out with the lads. I couldn’t experience that, but if I can go then I’d be a happy man.

“But my focus is playing well for Edinburgh so I can play for Scotland. And if I play well for Scotland then hopefully I can go again.”

About Stuart Bathgate 1407 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

16 Comments

  1. And from what I’ve seen of him in the last few games he’s all over the park looking for work, can’t fault him for that and it must mean that is what Everitt wants him to do

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  2. And also let’s face it , the league is much stronger this year, as evidenced by the 7 teams within 10 points contesting the top 8.

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  3. For those criticising his answers, what was he meant to say?

    ‘Well, the chances of beating Munster and then Benetton away are slim, so we probably won’t make the play-offs. If we do get there then I don’t fancy our chances in a one-off game at all. And would I like to play for the Lions again? Nah, I’d rather go on holiday to Mykonos.’

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  4. Everit had a much bigger job on his hands than Franco.
    To take a team with 6 wins last season and turn that into 11 wins is progress. Yes Edinburgh have a long way to go but no claim there is no progress is nonsense.

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  5. Get the result on Friday then the Benetton away game and see how things are,looking too far ahead is a distraction.Good luck to both Edinburgh and Glasgow this weekend.

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  6. Well, as a Glasgow fan, I sort of agree with him. We have a better all round team, but the Edinburgh pack is fearsome and playing well. Anything is possible with a dominant pack.

    Last year Edinburgh had a load of bonus points and were nowhere near the playoffs. They have converted a lot of those losing bonus points into wins. Looks like progress to me.

  7. What a load of baloney – and bear in mind I’m strictly neutral and would love to see both our teams thriving. But the fact remains that for all their star quality Edinburgh are still a team that punches well below its weight – and to my mind Everitt’s appointment has done little to change that. The URC table doesn’t lie, with the Warriors going all guns blazing for top spot while their neighbours have an almighty struggle on their hands to make the playoffs at all.

    They showed absolutely zero backbone on that disastrous South African mini-tour, when their lack of performance dropped them from top-four contenders to also-rans. Bonus points don’t come into it, it’s winning the matches that count at the business end of the season which matters most and that is where their focus needs to be.

    It angers me to hear Duhan talking like this, although obviously journalists will major on what they want to hear and the subject needs to be on their guard. Confidence is a great thing if based on reality, but right now the guys should have their sights set on the Munster game first, foremost and to the exclusion of all else. A great result on Friday might suggest that backing yourself against anyone is more than blind optimism.

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    • yep, its all about winning. Edinburgh have more games than anyone bar Glasgow and Leinster, same number as Munster and Bulls. What they don’t have is the same bonus points. If Edin miss out on the play-offs, it will all be down to bonus points. Lack of them

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    • How do you expect Everitt to turn us into a top of the table team in one season, it’s just ridiculous.

      What he has done is turn is form a losing with bonus points team into a winning team, as evidences by:

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      22/23 games won 6, bonus points 14 place 12
      23/24 games won (so far!) 11 bonus points 4 place 8

      My view is going the right way, by no means the finished article but as Everitt builds the team he wants, I’m hoping we’re on the rise, and I’ve bought my season ticket for next year

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        • To be fair to big Duhan what he does he does exceptionally well. As mentioned above a lot of the time he seems isolated out on the wing and the Embra back line is guilty of misfiring and don’t get the ball to him often or quickly enough. I’ve always felt he should be going looking for work more, however he may be under orders to hold out wide to worry the opposition into marking him and leaving holes elsewhere.

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