Canada's DTH Van Der Merwe (centre) takes part in a training session in Kobe, Japan, October 7 2019. Picture: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
Canada's DTH Van Der Merwe (centre) takes part in a training session in Kobe, Japan, October 7 2019. Picture: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Kobe — His bucket list may have a significant hole in it but Canada wing DTH van der Merwe is chuffed at the prospect of playing the Springboks on Tuesday.

The Worcester-born winger was a huge Springbok and Stormers fan before he moved to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan in 2003.

“I’ve been to a few Springbok games. We had family season tickets at Newlands‚” Van der Merwe said cheerily.

“One of my bucket-list things was to play at Newlands. But just playing against the Springboks will do. I have fond memories of being a Springbok and Stormers supporter back then‚” said Van der Merwe, who will be playing in his 60th Test on Tuesday.

Naturally, the prospect of playing the Boks enthuses him, but Canada had to endure some anguish before securing passage to this Rugby World Cup (RWC).

“When we went through the qualifying‚ it wasn’t ideal, but the positive was that we would be in the same pool as SA‚ the country of my birth. It is going to be an exciting day for me and my family back home in SA‚” he said.

“I’m Canadian now and I just want to do my best for my team. Hopefully bring a bit of spark in the backs‚” said Van der Merwe.

On Tuesday the 33-year-old could join an elite list including only Brian O’Driscoll‚ Brian Lima‚ Gareth Thomas and Adam Ashley-Cooper to score a try at four RWCs should he dot down against the Boks.

It seems a tall order but this RWC has thrown up the weird and the wacky.

Van der Merwe has maintained his links with the country of his birth as he used to travel to the country with his wife once a year but took a break when they had their three children.

“The last time I went back was in February and took my wife and three kids to meet my grandmom and my aunts, who are there. That was a good time. We still have a family beach house over there [Franskraal‚ near Hermanus]. We’ve got a place to stay, which is nice.”

Van der Merwe wears his heart on his sleeve. He also wears the names of those he holds dear on his wrists.

“He’s a bit of an emotional guy at times. He takes inspiration out of some pretty inspirational people. He’s a pretty special guy‚” said Canada captain Tyler Ardron of Van der Merwe.

Van der Merwe writes the names of his family members on the strapping on his right arm and on the left he has the name of Capt Trevor Green‚ a former rugby player and officer in the Canadian Forces who survived an axe attack in the Kandahar province in Afghanistan in 2006.

Tuesday is likely to be a day he will never forget.

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