Lions wing van der Merwe fired up by South African criticism

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Scotland's South Africa-born wing Duhan van der Merwe (L) says criticism by South Africans of him returning to his birthplace with the British & Irish Lions squad only serves to fire him up more
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Scotland's South African-born wing Duhan van der Merwe says he will use the criticism he is receiving from his birthplace ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour there as motivation to play even better.

The 26-year-old is due to play for the Lions for the first time against Japan on Saturday in Edinburgh before the squad fly out to South Africa for a three-Test series with the reigning world champions.

Van der Merwe earned his place in Warren Gatland's squad with eight tries in his 10 Tests thusfar for his adopted country including the match-winner in the last-gasp victory over France in Paris in last season's Six Nations.

Inevitably the switch to the Scots by the former South Africa Under-20 flier -- he qualified through the old three-year residency rule which has since been extended to five -- and his selection for the Lions have angered some of his former compatriots.

"Yes it does," he replied at Friday's press conference as to whether the barbed remarks motivated him more.

"You get the odd comment here and there -- 'he's obviously born in South Africa so shouldn't be representing Scotland or the Lions'.

"'He's going back to South Africa and shouldn't be representing the Lions'.

"You get all those kind of bits."

Van der Merwe, who will play for English Premiership side Worcester next season, said those who counted most to him back in South Africa were fully supportive of his decision.

"All my friends are all very excited to watch the games live on television and my family are backing me, which is the most important thing for me," said van der Merwe.

"All my family and mates are behind me and they can't wait to see me play. I'm looking forward to going to South Africa with Lions.

"I left South Africa at the age of 20 (to play for French Top 14 side Montpellier before moving to Edinburgh) and if you'd asked me then if I ever thought I'd represent the British and Irish Lions on a tour to South Africa, I'd have said no."


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