Pete Horne gives insight into Scotland wing Duhan Van Der Merwe’s driven mindset

Pete Horne has given an insight into the driven mindset of record-chasing Scotland wing Duhan Van Der Merwe ahead of the Guinness Six Nations showdown with Italy in Rome.

The 28-year-old’s match-defining hat-trick against England a week past Saturday took him to 26 international touchdowns, within one of Stuart Hogg at the top of the Scots’ list of all-time try-scorers.

Van Der Merwe could equal or break the record if he crosses the whitewash at the Stadio Olimpico this weekend.

Duhan Van Der Merwe
Duhan Van Der Merwe scored a hat-trick for Scotland last time out (Andrew Milligan/PA)

But assistant coach Horne revealed how the combative wing returned to camp last Thursday – just five days after his Calcutta Cup heroics – and immediately wanted to start working on becoming stronger in contact and not getting turned over as often.

“He just showed against England how much quality he’s got,” said Horne.

“The match before (against France), I think he was a little bit disappointed that he hadn’t broken a tackle for the first time in his life.

“It just shows the manner of him as he saw that almost as a challenge and he was outstanding against England.

“I love Duhi’s character. I probably underestimated how much of a student of the game he is before I came in (as a coach).

“I love working with him because he’s always looking for little bits to work on.

Stuart Hogg
Stuart Hogg is Scotland’s current try-scoring record-holder (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“The first thing he said to me was, ‘We need to catch up. I need to work on when defenders are soaking on me I keep getting reefed because I’ve got nobody to bump’.

“He’s scored three tries, got man of the match and that was the first thing he’s come out with when we came in last Thursday. He’s got a real growth mindset around his game. He’s constantly looking at ways to get better.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before he scores another couple and gets that record for himself.”

Scotland have lost influential centre Sione Tuipulotu for the remainder of the Six Nations due to a knee injury sustained against England, with Bath’s Cam Redpath expected to deputise in Rome.

“Cam was outstanding off the bench against England,” said Horne. “He’s been pushing the boys who have been starting really hard and has been pushing for an opportunity for a long time.

Cam Redpath
Cam Redpath is in line to start against Italy on Saturday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“He was so well prepped and performed so well after having to come on early in the game. I was so chuffed for him.

“Cam’s having a great season. He and Finn are going really well together at Bath. Speaking to their coaches, I know Cam is very highly regarded there.

“He’s just got something about him. He’s a Test match animal and he’s got real X Factor. If he gets the nod this weekend, we’ll all be really excited to see him play.”

Scotland are currently second in the Six Nations table after winning two of their three matches so far, but they would need a favour from England against Ireland on Saturday in order to take their title bid to a last-weekend showdown in Dublin.

“We’re not talking too much about any of that,” said Horne. “We’ve spent the whole week talking about controlling everything that is in our power.

“We need to do a professional job this weekend, go over there and beat Italy. That’s all we are focused on.

Scotland have won two of their three Six Nations matches (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“We’re pretty happy with where we’re at. We feel like the tweaks to our game, the way we’ve evolved since the World Cup, have been good.

“We’re right in the mix and we should be three from three (after what would have been a match-winning try against France was controversially disallowed).

“We can’t be disappointed with that but we definitely feel that we’ve left a lot of opportunities out there.

“It’s a good place to be where we’re getting some decent results but we’re still not playing quite at our potential.”