It was a decade ago, but it might as well be 1,000 years, since DTH van der Merwe had a brief stint at Saracens.
Both player and the club have developed beyond all recognition since then, meaning any insight the Canadian winger can give his current Glasgow Warriors team-mates into what makes the English champions click is obsolete. Full-back Alex Goode the only player in the current squad from his time at the club.
Van der Merwe, below, said: “It was in 2007 and I was the medical joker call-up for two months after Dan Scarbrough got injured.
“Eddie Jones – a consultant to Sarries head coach Alan Gaffneyat the time – put me in touch through Glen Ella, the Canada coach. I was playing local rugby in Canada and was just 20 years old so it was a great opportunity. I only played one game for the 1stXV against Leeds but played four or five games in the A league with Alex Goode. Gordon Ross [former Scotland stand-off] was there and in my first game I scored a hat-trick thanks to three cross-field kicks from him. It was good times, but it was before Saracens became what they are today.”
Three and a half years later Mark McCall became the club’s driving force as director of rugby amid tales of large cash injections from South Africa.
Van der Merwe joined the Warriors in 2009-10 and after six seasons at Scotstoun, two at Scarlets, and a spell at Newcastle rejoined them in March.
At 32, his appetite for the game is undiminished and he can’t wait to run out at Allianz Park on Saturday with a Champions Cup quarter-final spot up for grabs. He said: “It’s a huge opportunity – our destiny is in our own hands.
“I don’t think we’ve ever come to the sixth and final round and everything is up to us. We’ve always had to worry about some other results going our way, so it’s great to have it in our own hands this time.”