DURBAN - There are few rugby players that drum up more excitement with ball in hand than former Lions hooker Akker van der Merwe. However, the man affectionately dubbed the ‘Angry Warthog’, has found his time on the field sadly lacking on the Highveld.
Van der Merwe has been a big hit on the rugby scene since his days at NWU Pukke where he was a stand out for the Varsity Cup team. Known for his barnstorming runs and eye for the tryline, the 26 year old made his provincial break at the Leopards briefly before heading to the Big Smoke.
However, Van der Merwe found himself very much in the match 23 rather than the starting 15 for the Lions, behind either Robbie Coetzee or Malcolm Marx.
Van der Merwe is not unlike any rugby player on this planet, he is simply out there to play as much of the game as possible, and thus far, the hooker believes it has been a successful move to Durban as he made his debut in black and white this Currie Cup season.
“At the end of the day, you want to play rugby, and I want to get some game time under my belt,” Van der Merwe said. “Already here, I have gotten more game time in these last three matches than I have probably got this whole year - it is all about the game time.”
Indeed, Van der Merwe has quickly made himself at home at the Sharks, especially with Chiliboy Ralepelle away with the Boks. And despite playing off the bench in his few appearances thus far, the hooker is enjoying his life in Durban.
“I am enjoying my time at the Sharks a lot, of course, it is a lot better than the big city life, I am loving the weather,” Van der Merwe smiled.
While he may not be competing with the main Bok hooker in Durban, Van der Merwe will still have to make his mark against some class talent at the Sharks.
Franco Marais has quickly established himself as a true Shark favourite with his determination and dedication to the cause. Of course, Ralepelle has an important role to play at the Sharks with his experience.
Van der Merwe however seems to represent the type of hooker the Sharks are after as, in his words, the No 2 position is a key ball carrying position.
Up next for the Sharks is a Cheetahs team that will be very understrength as they focus their attention to their first fixture in the Pro 14.
This could well be the perfect chance to give Van der Merwe a chance to showcase his 80-minute talent.