DURBAN - The man they call the angry warthog, Akker van der Merwe will be in the Currie Cup colours of the Sharks from this week having said farewell to the Lions after the weekend’s Super Rugby final.
Acker, or Armand to his mother, has made an enormous impact off the bench for the Lions, but with Malcolm Marx entrenched in the No 2 jersey at the Lions, he has decided on pastures new and has signed a two-year deal with the Durbanites.
In another possible development at the Shark Tank, it is understood that Kings wing sensation Makazole Mapimpi is set to join the Sharks in January after having completed the Currie Cup for the Cheetahs and played some of the Top 14 for the same team before linking up with the Sharks for Super Rugby.
The 26-year-old Van der Merwe was born in Vanderbijlpark but was schooled in George at Outeniqua High School. He moved to Potchefstroom and starred for Pukke in the Varsity Cup and played a number of games for the Leopards before moving to the Lions.
He played 39 times for the Lions in Super Rugby from 2014 and earned 18 caps for the union in the Currie Cup. In Durban he will provide stiff competition at hooker for Franco Marais and Chiliboy Ralepelle.
The Sharks have not confirm that Mapimpi is Durban-bound but it will be a coup if the flyer moves to the Shark Tank. Playing in a Kings team that won six of 15 games, he scored 11 tries, the fourth most in the competition, and he was often the excited talk of the overseas commentators because of his nifty finishing.
The Sharks are in the middle of a tough Currie Cup challenge, having to play the Bulls on Wednesday just four days after beating Griquas 41-3 on Friday night. They then play the Lions on Saturday in Johannesburg.
Coach Robert du Preez said after the Griquas win that he was pleased with his team’s start, which has comprised of comprehensive beatings of the Pumas and Griquas at Kings Park.
The Sharks were rusty in the first half against the Pumas but clinical in the second half, and then dismantled a prickly Kimberley team at the weekend.
There were some very good individual performances among a good team effort, with young flank Jacques Vermeulen showing he is one for the future. Daniel du Preez, Sbu Nkosi and Thomas du Toit were others to catch the eye.
“The second half against Griquas was good, we created a lot of opportunities and we are getting better at converting them into points,” the coach said. “It is tough out there in these evening games in terms of the dew on the grass. You don’t see it from the sidelines but it makes handling difficult.
“In general we are happy with how we are going and hopefully we have a platform from which to step up for tough away games against the Bulls and Lions.”