Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe will finally play against Boks
His bucket list may have a significant hole in it, but Canada wing DTH van der Merwe is majorly chuffed at the prospect of playing the Springboks in Kobe, Japan, on Tuesday.
The Worcester-born winger was a massive Springbok and Stormers fan before he moved to the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan in 2003.
“I’ve been to a few Springbok games. We had family season tickets at Newlands‚” Van der Merwe said.
“One of my bucket list things was to play at Newlands. But just playing against the Springboks will do. I have fond memories of being a Springbok and Stormers supporter back then‚” said Van der Merwe, who will be playing in his 60th test on Tuesday.
Naturally the prospect of playing the Boks thrilled him, but Canada had to go through a bit of anguish before securing passage to this Rugby World Cup (RWC).
“When we went through the repechage (qualifying)‚ it wasn’t ideal but the positive was that we would be in the same pool as South Africa‚ the country of my birth. It is going to be an exciting day for me and my family back home in South Africa‚” he said about Tuesday’s game.
“I’m Canadian now and I just want to do my best for my team. Hopefully bring a bit of spark in the backs‚” said Van der Merwe.
On Tuesday‚ the 33-year-old could join an elite list including only Brian O’Driscoll‚ Brian Lima‚ Gareth Thomas and Adam Ashley-Cooper to score a try at four RWCs should he dot down against the Boks.
It seems a tall order but this RWC has thrown up the weird and the wacky.
Van der Merwe has maintained his links with the country of his birth as he used to travel to the country with his wife once a year, but took a break when they had their three children.
“The last time I went back was in February when I took my wife and three kids to meet my grandmom and my aunts who are there. That was a good time. We still have a family beach house over there (Franskraal‚ near Hermanus). We’ve got a place to stay which is nice.”
Van der Merwe wears his heart on his sleeve‚ and wears the names of those he holds dear on his wrists.
“He’s a bit of an emotional guy at times. He takes inspiration out of some pretty inspirational people. He’s a pretty special guy‚” said Canada captain Tyler Ardron.
Van der Merwe writes the names of his family members on the strapping on his right arm and on the left he has the name of Captain Trevor Green‚ a former rugby player and officer in the Canadian Forces who survived an axe attack in the Kandahar province in Afghanistan in 2006.
Tuesday is likely to be a day he will never forget.
SportsLIVE PODCAST SPECIAL: "Mark Alexander must step down" over Etzebeth - Claassen