British & Irish Lions

Former British and Irish Lions star backs SA-born winger Duhan van der Merwe to make Test impact

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Duhan van der Merwe of Scotland battles for the ball. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
Duhan van der Merwe of Scotland battles for the ball. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Former British and Irish Lions star Jamie Roberts believes that South African-born wing Duhan van der Merwe can make a significant impact against the Springboks.

Van der Merwe only made his Scotland debut last year but has impressed since, finishing as the top try-scorer in the 2021 Six Nations with five.

There are concerns over his defence but, in selecting his backline for the Tests, Roberts insists that the powerhouse wing will provide balance to the team.

"When I think about the Lions backline I think it has to cover all bases. I think it has to have tactical nous, power, pace and footwork," the Wales legend told World Rugby.

"I thin Conor Murray and Biggar are in pole position (at half-back) with their tactical ability and control of the game so I will go with them.

"I think Robbie Henshaw has to play in the midfield, but I think alongside Owen Farrell. I think Farrell as a second receiver, a second kicker, with Henshaw at 13.

"That for me means Duhan van der Merwe comes in on the wing as a ball carrier. I’d love to see him on the wing as a ball carrying option. I have a feeling he is going to light up South Africa.

"Then I’d go Anthony Watson. He’s been on form and he’s fantastic in the air and has footwork and pace. And I would go Stuart Hogg at full-back."

Roberts also wasn’t surprised to see Bundee Aki given the nod, particularly when George North was ruled out of the tour.

He added: "Not many people saw Bundee Aki getting selected but, once George North got injured, you’ve got to think 'who is the best ball carrier here?'

"I think George would have been that guy but, once he got injured, you’re looking around and the two best players that do that is Van der Merwe – and I’m delighted to see him selected – and Bundee Aki.

"He’s a solid ball of muscle and against a team like South Africa, who are going to bring line speed, you need players like him."

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