South Africa

New Bok star Edwill van der Merwe: ‘Incredibly special’

Edwill van der Merwe 1 1

Lions wing Edwill van der Merwe made a sensational Springbok debut as his man-of-the-match performance helped them clinch a comfortable 41-13 win over Wales in their season opener at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.

Van Der Merwe was everywhere on the day, fielding high balls, running hard and making his tackles, while he had two stunning moments in the match.

The first came in the 22nd minute, when Wales intercepted a Jordan Hendrikse pass in the Boks’ half and streaked away to the 22m area, where Van Der Merwe made a superb double try-saving tackle, which led to a knock on and the chance gone.

The second came in the 75th minute when he received the ball from a ruck just outside the Welsh 22m line, stepped a player, burst through a tackle attempt and sprinted away to score his first international try to seal a memorable performance.

Grateful for opportunity

After the match Van Der Merwe said he was grateful for the opportunity and hoped it wouldn’t be his last and that he would make the Bok squad that will be named for the incoming series against Ireland and Portugal.

“Our preparation over these two weeks was fantastic. We had a really good build up to this match which was really important, especially for a new guy like me coming into a new system, and learning a few new things,” said Van Der Merwe.

“But my teammates and the coaching staff made it so easy for me to slot in, be myself and today I could just do my thing and play rugby. Every player is different, but it was incredibly special to get my first start for the Springboks and hopefully it’s not the last one.

“Ireland is known for being one of the best sides in the world. We will do our analysis from this game and then switch our focus to Ireland and hopefully I can be in the squad to face them in those two Tests in South Africa.”

Captain Du Toit

Springbok captain for the game Pieter-Steph du Toit was happy with their start to the season but admitted that there were a number of work-ons for the team ahead of the series against Ireland.

“We started both the first and second half quite well, but then we had two periods, from 20 to 30 minutes and 50 to 60 minutes where we slipped a bit. But I guess that’s where the experience of being together as a team for longer in training will go away,” explained Du Toit.

“We have only been together for two weeks now, so I think it was a good start to the season but there are still a lot of work-ons for us.

“It’s (Ireland) going to be a tough one. It’s like this (game), we give Wales a lot of credit. It is always nice to play against them because it is tough and it gives us good preparation. We now know where we stand as a team and what we need to work-on for Ireland.”