Guinness PRO12: DTH ready for new challenge with Scarlets
Canadian international wing to swap Glasgow for Llanelli as Warriors record try-scorer agrees summer move to the Scarlets
DTH van der Merwe insists he is ready for a new challenge after agreeing to join the Scarlets from Guinness PRO12 rivals Glasgow Warriors.
The 28-year-old South Africa-born Canadian international winger, who is the Warriors’ leading try-scorer with 39 tries from 90 appearances, will swap the west of Scotland for West Wales in 2015/16.
The Scarlets are traditionally known for their exhilarating style of running rugby and have some great backs in the likes of Regan King and Scott Williams and it will be great to link up with former international Stephen Jones.
DTH van der Merwe
Van der Merwe will add considerable experience to a relatively young backline at the Parc y Scarlets, which is set to be further hit by the departure of Wales outside-half Rhys Priestland to Bath.
As well as causing plenty of problems from the left wing, van der Merwe also provides an option at centre, and has made the occasional appearance at full-back for Canada, and the West Walians got a good taste of what they can expect from 31-times capped international in their 22-7 defeat to the Warriors in miserable conditions at Scotstoun Stadium in January as the Canadian powered over for two tries.
“I am extremely grateful to Glasgow Warriors for all that they have done for me since I joined back in 2009,” van der Merwe said.
“I have had six great seasons at Glasgow, but I feel that the time is right for me to face a new challenge.
“I have heard great things about the Scarlets and the facilities at Parc y Scarlets and I’m looking forward to making the move to West Wales.
“The Scarlets are traditionally known for their exhilarating style of running rugby and have some great backs in the likes of Regan King and Scott Williams and it will be great to link up with former international Stephen Jones, who’ll be making a return as a backs coach.
“We have some big games coming up between now and the end of the season and after missing the second part of last season, including the final through injury, I’m hoping I can play my part this time around.”
Van der Merwe has been integral to the Warriors’ rise from Celtic League no-hopers to PRO12 title contenders with his strong defensive game being almost as invaluable as the tries he scores at the other end.
His record speaks for itself – he’s a very aggressive defender, has a natural ability to create and score tries and having a strong finisher in your side is invaluable.
With the Warriors already losing scrum-half Niko Matawalu (Bath) and wing/full-back Sean Maitland (London Irish) in the summer, the loss of van der Merwe will not go down well with the club’s passionate fans.
So far, the Warriors have not announced the signing of any new backs for next season, although they have secured the future of a number of players, and earlier this week secured the services of Italian flanker Simone Favaro to add competition to the back row.
Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac admitted his delight at being able to attract a player of van der Merwe’s calibre to the Parc y Scarlets.
“We are delighted to announce that DTH will join us here at Parc y Scarlets ahead of the new season,” said Pivac.
“His record speaks for itself – he’s a very aggressive defender, has a natural ability to create and score tries and having a strong finisher in your side is invaluable.
“At 28 years of age, DTH will add international experience and maturity to our relative young backline and it will be great to have another experienced voice around to nurture some of our younger guys coming through.
“With experience at centre and on the wing, DTH will be an exciting new addition to the squad.”
Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend paid tribute to van der Merwe for his contribution to the club during his six seasons in the west of Scotland and conceded he is sorry to see the popular player leave Scotstoun.
“DTH has been a great player for us over the last six years and has become the club’s record try scorer,” said Townsend
“He has always given one hundred per cent and has played his part in the development of the club.
“We’ll be sorry to see him go, but we wish him well when he leaves us in May.”