Glasgow Warriors centurion ready to rise to big occasion

DTH van der Merwe is set to make his 100th appearance for Glasgow in the 1872 Cup decider at BT Murrayfield. Picture: SNS
DTH van der Merwe is set to make his 100th appearance for Glasgow in the 1872 Cup decider at BT Murrayfield. Picture: SNS
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It probably wasn’t his main reason for returning to Scotstoun, in fact he may not have even remembered his numbers at all, but just weeks after signing from Newcastle Falcons, Canadian international winger DTH van der Merwe is due to make his 100th appearance in Glasgow colours in this evening’s big end of season inter-city decider.

“It will be a special day,” said the South African-born van der Merwe ahead of the 1872 Cup clash with Edinburgh. “Obviously I left the club after six years here and a lot of hard work and I fell short at 96 [appearances]. You don’t want to take things away, there are great team performances, but it’s always nice to get that 100th cap as a personal accolade.

“I am just lucky enough to have been able to come back and get a few games on the bounce. It’s just tied in really well with being a big game, the 1872 Cup.”

The winger has a nose for the line and he usually comes up with the goods when it matters most. He scored the try that eased Glasgow past Ulster in the 2015 Pro12 semi-final. He claimed the opening try of the ensuing final against Munster the same season and he has notched a total of 52 league tries (15 of which came in Scarlet colours) in 110 Pro12/14 appearances (14 of which were off the bench).

It is a staggering strike rate and somewhat at odds with his half season in the Aviva Premiership where he played three games for the Falcons and scored just the one try.

He fondly recalls the Glasgow of old when the team would play at Firhill in front of no more than a thousand fans. Those numbers swelled to four of five thousand on derby day and, while the ground has changed, some things remain the same. “I always remember those real big battles, we didn’t have an upper hand in those games, Edinburgh were probably the favourites, but we worked hard,” he said.

“It’s definitely a dogfight up front. What really sticks in my mind was the year at Firhill. Edinburgh were wearing a pink strip almost with faces on it. Rob Harley made a break from a kick-off and I got a nice little run in so that was a special moment.

“I like the niggly bits but nowadays, you just mentioned the Chris Fusaro fight with Scott MacLeod, that stuff doesn’t really happen any more, there are too many cameras around. I’m sure there are a few little digs that go on in the middle of a ruck but I try and stay out of those for the most part.”

The other change is that DTH may not even be the best van der Merwe on the field this evening because Edinburgh boast Duhan in their ranks.

“He is a massive ball carrier, he scores tries, he has really good leg drive and he is a big boy,” says DTH of his rival.

Two very different wingers, two very different approaches to this game.