DTH van der Merwe glad to return home to the Glasgow family

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There is a good chance that the Glasgow back three against Zebre on Friday will be made up entirely of players who made their names at the club before choosing to expand their horizons elsewhere, only to decide that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Ruaridh Jackson, who had six happy years at the club between 2008 and 2014, before moving south to play for Wasps then Harlequins, has been a revelation at full-back since re-joining the 
Scotstoun outfit last August.

DTH van der Merwe training at Scotstoun. Picture: SNS/SRU

DTH van der Merwe training at Scotstoun. Picture: SNS/SRU

Niko Matawalu was a huge fans’ favourite between 2012 and 2015 after making the move from his native Fiji. He didn’t fare quite so well during spells with Bath and Exeter Chiefs, but has now rediscovered his mojo on the wing since returning to Glasgow a few weeks into the start of this season.

And now DTH van der Merwe is back. The Canadian speedster bowed out of 
Glasgow on a high when scoring one of the team’s four tries in the 2015 Pro12 Grand Final victory over Munster, and 
initially fared pretty well with the Scarlets when scoring 20 tries in 41 games during two seasons, helping the Welsh region to the Pro14 title in 2017 along the way. But a switch to Newcastle Falcons for the start of this campaign didn’t work out so well and after managing only three appearances in seven frustrating months with the English Premiership side, he finally managed to engineer a move back to the rugby club he calls “home”.

“Always go back! The grass isn’t greener,” retorted the 31-year-old, when it was suggested that a cynic might view his return to Scotstoun as a 
retrograde step.

“I always tried to come back. Gregor [Townsend] started it all. He wanted me to come back. He tried to make things work at Scarlets – during my time there I tried to get back to Glasgow – but it didn’t work out. Then, at Newcastle I wasn’t getting game time, and Nathan Bombrys [Glasgow Warriors’ managing director] called my agent and from then it just snowballed.

“When I came to Glasgow we were bottom of the table, training out at Whitecraigs and playing at Firhill. I stuck with this club through thick and thin. Now I want the younger guys to get the same feeling as I did for Glasgow when we won that first Pro12.

“I think it speaks volumes about this club [that so many players return]. People 
sometimes need to move away to experience different things. You can become stagnant and complacent if you don’t, but if the club asks you back it says a lot about the impression you have made that they want you.

“People want to come back here to Glasgow because there is a good team and family 
environment. Everyone wants to be involved in that. Rugby is about being part of a family group – with players first and then your extended 
family being comfortable in the 
surroundings, as Saracens have done and Glasgow are doing.

“So, I am glad I went away for a couple of years and experienced a different culture and learned a few new things, but ultimately the greatest thing is that I am back now.”

Van der Merwe scored one of Canada’s seven tries in a 45-5 victory over Brazil in the Americas Rugby Championship back in February, but hasn’t played a pro game since the start of October. Despite this, he is confident that he can hit the ground running if he is asked to do so by Warriors head coach Dave Rennie against Zebre on Friday.

“I played once for the 
A team in December but nothing in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, so I have just been training. It has been tough because I am used to playing a lot. That is the 
reason I tried to move on. I was not happy not playing,” he said.

“I’m very excited to be back. It’s familiar surroundings but a fresh start, and Glasgow rotate so I’m sure I’ll get my opportunity. The styles that Glasgow and Newcastle play are very similar. It’s all high tempo, so is training, so I’m fully fit and ready to go.”