Akker van der Merwe helped the Sharks to victory over his former team, the Lions, on Saturday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Akker van der Merwe helped the Sharks to victory over his former team, the Lions, on Saturday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
Van der Merwe made his Spring debut during the June international. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Van der Merwe made his Spring debut during the June international. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

DURBAN - For most rugby players, pulling that green and gold jersey on for the first time would be their crowning moment, indicating they have reached the pinnacle in their career. Explosive Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe recently notched that milestone, but had a cherry to add to the top.

It has been a stellar few weeks for the man dubbed 'the angry warthog' due to his compact and devastating running style with ball in hand. He picked up a cap or two for the Springboks in June, but coming back to Super Rugby he also got a big dose of vindication.

Playing against the Lions, the hooker dominated play against the then-injured Springbok incumbent, Malcolm Marx. He picked up a man of the match award against the club he left in order to further his career. Asked if it felt sweet to beat his old side, Van der Merwe was in agreement.

“Especially coming to Durban from the Lions, and I think the Sharks beat the Lions it was in 2015, so it is just all and all a special game, and I enjoyed it a lot,” the hooker beamed.

Van der Merwe was asked if his beaming smiles and good play was indicative of a man simply enjoying his rugby, and again, he was in agreement. “I am not going to disagree with you! I have been enjoying my rugby, and life in general at the moment, but I don’t know who is paying those SuperSport commentators who keep giving me man of the match awards!” he quipped. “Still, not going to complain about what is happening at the moment.”

Van der Merwe still has a big role to play for the Sharks in their remaining two games of the season. It was however touch and go with the hooker, who had an injury concern after the game only to wake up on Sunday raring to go again.

“It was a bit of a shocker, maybe a bit of a dislocation, but when I woke up on Sunday it was fine,” Van der Merwe said of his shoulder that was troubling him after the Lions encounter.

It is not only the Stormers game that Van der Merwe hopes to play a role in; the hooker says the Sharks set a target of winning the final six games since their return from the international break. Those six games began with the Lions, then it is the Stormers followed by the Jaguares, and then the lofty ambition spreads to a quarter-final, a semi-final, and the final, on August 4.

“Every game is a must win now, we have to win six out of six, so our motivation is the fourth of August, so we have to win everything up until then,” Van der Merwe said optimistically.

The Mercury

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