Can Sharks defence stop Scotland star Duhan van der Merwe?

Edinburgh and Scotland Test wing Duhan van der Merwe, seen here in full flight against the Bulls, is likely to be a handful for the Sharks on Saturday. Picture: BackpagePix

Edinburgh and Scotland Test wing Duhan van der Merwe, seen here in full flight against the Bulls, is likely to be a handful for the Sharks on Saturday. Picture: BackpagePix

Published Mar 28, 2024


Scotland and Edinburgh superstar Duhan van der Mewe will draw fans to Kings Park on his own on Saturday (3pm kick-off), but the Sharks have a plan to clip his wings.

Van der Merwe is a nominee for the Six Nations Player of the Year award after yet another spectacular season, which included a hat-trick of tries against bitter rivals England at Murrayfield.

The product of Outeniqua High School in George could well have an honorary tartan designed for him for that one, but he has been scoring wonder tries regularly in his 29 appearances for his adopted country since 2020.

Van der Merwe sat out Edinburgh’s match against the Stormers last week because of Scotland’s resting protocols, but he and a host of other Test teammates will come storming back into the side this week.

Vincent Koch, the veteran Springbok and a brand new Shark, said that while Van der Merwe is a nice fellow off the field, he will have no friends on it on Saturday – not in Sharks colours, anyway.

“Duhan is a good guy, and he enjoys catching up with fellow South Africans after games when we play overseas,” Koch said.

“He is a bit younger than me, but I have chatted to him and I know his older brother (Bulls hooker Akker) well.

“Duhan left South Africa after his junior years, and I left for the UK, and he has grown into an international star. We have loads of respect for him.

“We know the threats he will bring, and we have put a lot of analysis into making sure we contain him. We have a plan.”

Koch is set to start this week after debuting off the bench in the defeat of Ulster last Saturday.

After the 22-12 win, coach John Plumtree said he wanted to give his front row bench players from that game a chance to start.

That means Koch and Ox Nche will come into the starting line-up, and they will have a tough battle against a front row of Scotland players, including former Bulls loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman.

“They will have an international front row, and they have an unbelievable loose trio as well,” said Koch.

“They are probably going to be angry and a little bit disappointed with their performance against the Stormers, and they will want to rectify it against us.”

But the Sharks are in a mean mood as well, according to Koch.

“Speaking for the forwards, the goal is to be dominant, to be tough guys, and to show that – not just talk about it,” the 34-year-old said.

“We want to show people that the badge on our chest means something to us.

“Before we took the field against Ulster, Eben (Etzebeth) had a few words to say about turning things around.

“We want to make the supporters proud … we want to show the Sharks is a good brand.

“But it is more than proving people wrong: we want to make a point to ourselves.

“We know we have lots of talent, and we want to show what we can do. We want people to fear coming to our stadium – they must know that they are in for a very tough time when they play the Sharks.”

The Durban outfit have a band of faithful supporters, and despite being bottom of the log going into the Ulster game, they drew 18 000 spectators.

“It is nice to know that even though we haven’t been too good, nice crowds still turn out to watch us. We know we can change things and hopefully the win over Ulster is a first glimpse of where we are going,” Koch added.