British Lions have their own ’Van der Merwe’ after Duhan picked for Springboks series
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CAPE TOWN - South African-born Duhan van der Merwe has made the cut for the 37-man British and Irish Lions squad for the upcoming series against the Springboks, while Alun Wyn Jones has been named captain.
Van der Merwe, the younger brother of Springbok hooker Akker, has been outstanding for Edinburgh over the last four years, which earned him selection to the Scotland Test side in 2020.
He has earned 10 Test caps and scored eight tries, which has caught the eye of Lions coach Warren Gatland. Van der Merwe’s familiarity with South Africa would have helped him, as he played junior rugby for the South Western District Eagles in George and senior rugby for the Blue Bulls in 2016, before moving to Montpellier in France a year later.
But he made his big breakthrough at Edinburgh, where his powerful runs down the left wing and try-scoring exploits saw him made his Test debut for Scotland against Georgia last October.
Apart from Jones as skipper, the biggest omissions include England No 8 Billy Vunipola, Ireland flank Josh van der Flier, Wales loose forward Josh Navidi and England centre Manu Tuilagi.
Gatland showed loyalty to his long-serving Welsh stalwarts such as captain Jones, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau amongst the forwards, while some surprises include Chris Harris of Scotland and Sam Simmonds of England.
“We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa,” Gatland said on Thursday.
“Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in. Over the course of the last three weeks, the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position.
“We saw some outstanding performances in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough, with some incredibly tight calls to make.
“However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled, and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the world champions.
“We’ve left out some very talented players, which gives an indication to the strength of this squad, and we know how important that stand-by list will be.
“Being selected for a Lions tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player, and I congratulate everyone named today.”
British & Irish Lions Squad
Backs (16): Josh Adams (Wales), Bundee Aki (Ireland), Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Gareth Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Chris Harris (Scotland), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Conor Murray (Ireland), Ali Price (Scotland), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Finn Russell (Scotland), Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland), Anthony Watson (England), Liam Williams (Wales).
Forwards (21): Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), Jack Conan (Ireland), Luke Cowan-Dickie (England), Tom Curry (England), Zander Fagerson (Scotland), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Jonny Hill (England), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, captain), Wyn Jones (Wales), Courtney Lawes (England), Ken Owens (Wales), Andrew Porter (Ireland), Sam Simmonds (England), Rory Sutherland (Scotland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Hamish Watson (Scotland).