WINGER DTH van der Merwe has set Glasgow a nine-point target from their remaining two European Rugby Champions Cup Pool Four fixtures with Montpellier and Bath as the key to making history by qualifying for the quarter-finals of European Rugby’s elite tournament for the first time.
While all five pool winners qualify automatically, the remaining places are made up from the top three runners-up. With Gregor Townsend’s side sitting second in Pool Four, on the ten-point mark, Glasgow are three points adrift of the 13-point yield achieved by Saracens in Pool One and Leinster in Pool Two. Racing Metro sit second in Pool Five four points above Warriors’ current tally, as the tournament enters its final two rounds of fixtures.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
But, while Van der Merwe admitted there is no point in being coy about Glasgow’s intentions, the Canadian international has warned that, even though Montpellier’s interest in Europe has ended, the arrival of World Cup-winning South African coach Jake White will have galvanised the French side.
Thus the Warriors’ record tryscorer has no doubt that a huge effort will be required by the Scotstoun men on Sunday if they are to repeat their 15-13 win at the Altrad Stadium on 25 October when five Finn Russell penalties ensured a famous victory in France.
He said: “It is clear to us that we need a minimum of nine points from the last two pool games with Montpellier and Bath. Given that we need the extra bonus point from one of these, then the best place to get that is in the home game with Montpellier on Sunday, where we will have a passionate Glasgow support behind us
“Obviously, if we can get ten points and collect the two bonus points, that would be tremendous but, before any of that comes into the equation, we have to concentrate on our game, getting our structures correct and making sure that we execute our gameplan.
“But we want to be ‘the’ Glasgow team that makes history by getting into the quarter-finals for the first time. I said to the boys at the beginning of the European campaign that winning the first two matches was the key to being alive by the time we get to rounds five and six and that has proven so.
“In my six years at Glasgow this is the first time we have managed to do that and be alive at this stage, so we have achieved that and now we need to take that extra step to make it through to the last eight but there can be no bigger incentive, than to make history, to achieve that.”
Van der Merwe has been at Glasgow since 2009 and has seen Warriors develop into Pro12 play-off semi-final specialists before they made it to their first major final only to lose the Pro12 decider against Leinster at the RDS in Dublin in May.
But the 28-year-old believes these experiences will be vital on Sunday. He said: “The fact that we actually have a chance to qualify does bring expectancy with it but we are very well versed in how to cope with that. If you look at the progress we have made over the last few seasons we have been making the Pro12 play-off semis and now have a final behind us and I think that will all stand us in good stead over the next two weeks.
“So we do have quite a bit of big game experience behind us and, in the past, like the play-off semi-final with Munster at home last season, we have shown we can deal with that.
“I have said at a couple of team meetings this season that I have been here since 2009 and I really want to win silverware with this Glasgow side and I believe we can achieve that.
“On a personal level I have to make it into the team, but I look forward to these big occasions, because I like playing in big games. I really want to make history with Glasgow.” White’s arrival as head coach at the Altrad has already sparked a 16-12 Top 14 victory for Montpellier over European champions Toulon, and Van der Merwe said: “I was born in South Africa so I have always followed his progress, so I don’t think you can say that because Montpellier are out of it they won’t be as competitive, as Jake will be determined to get them back on track.
“The French are known to have a switch-off mentality when they go away from home or they are not in the competition but, with Jake White, there they are really trying to get their season back on track and so I don’t think you can expect that on Sunday.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS