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Lions' Duhan van der Merwe ready for hostile South Africa reception

The 26-year-old wing will line-up for the British and Irish Lions in the first Test on Saturday.

Duhan van der Merwe cheered on the Springboks from an Edinburgh bar as they won the 2019 World Cup final, but the British and Irish Lions wing is expecting only hostility in return on Saturday.

Van der Merwe was born and raised in South Africa and played twice for the Junior Springboks in 2014 but qualified for Scotland on residency grounds having joined Edinburgh three years later.

Warren Gatland has spoken to the powerful Worcester wing about the sledging he can expect from the world champions in the first Test at Cape Town Stadium, but Van der Merwe will ignore attempts to unsettle him.

Duhan van der Merwe will face his country of birth this weekend
Duhan van der Merwe will face his country of birth this weekend (Steve Haag/PA)

"In any game you play you'll always get some verbal abuse, people getting stuck into you. That's rugby. You'll always get some words here or there. It's all part of the game," he said.

"I'm pretty used to it. I know I'm going to get a few boys holding on to me, pushing me here and there, but I'm just going to avoid it and focus on my game and not get stuck into those kinds of bits.

"If you look into those bits, it will just get to you. I'm not bothered, I will just go out there and do my thing.

"My family and my mates are buzzing for me, but a lot of them are obviously going to support the Springboks. They've also said that whenever I get ball in hand they will support me.

"There's been a couple of jokes here and there saying: 'Don't score too many tries against us'. That's the chat I've been having."

Van der Merwe has been outstanding in attack to the extent he has kept the prolific Josh Adams out of the team, but a question mark hangs over his defence at the highest level.

Any vulnerabilities are sure to be exposed by Cheslin Kolbe, his opposite number who is also one of the sport's most dangerous players.

"Cheslin is a world-class player. His ability to beat boys one-on-one is amazing. It's about staying on top of him, not giving him too much time on the ball," Van der Merwe said.

South Africa star Cheslin Kolbe promises to be a formidable opponent
South Africa star Cheslin Kolbe promises to be a formidable opponent (Adam Davy/PA)

"I've never played against him. He has very good feet, he's a quick guy and he throws his body around so fair play to him.

"When it's my turn on the ball and I have my shot at him, he needs to defend against me. It's not just me defending against him. You have to look at it both ways.

"Warren has just given me freedom to do my own thing and that gives me a lot of confidence. I want to get on the ball and do my thing.

"I'm quite a big winger, but I don't always look for contact. Sometimes I try and get it out to people. It's all about mixing it up."

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