Western Province lose Edwill van der Merwe to the Lions
Western Province's Edwill van der Merwe will wing his way to Johannesburg to take up a contract with the Lions later this year.
His contract with Western Province expires in November and his decision to move north would have surprised many observers, given the Lions' rapid decline in recent seasons.
“Western Province Professional Rugby (WPPR) made Van der Merwe a significant offer in a bid to retain his services, but the 25-year-old has chosen to relocate to Johannesburg,” the organisation said.
However, the wing who is quite adept at stepping his way out of confined spaces has faced stiff competition for a spot in the Western Province and Stormers' line-ups.
Warrick Gelant, Sergeal Petersen, Seabelo Senatla, Leolin Zas, Tristan Leyds, Angelo Davids and at times Damian Willemse all vie for places in the WP back three.
The vastly experienced Courtnall Skosan recently announced his move from the Lions to Northampton Saints in the English Premiership, which means Van der Merwe is more likely to be guaranteed game time at Ellis Park.
Van der Merwe will still be available for WP in the Currie Cup play-offs and the Stormers for the first four rounds of the United Rugby Championship (URC).
WP head coach John Dobson said while it is disappointing to see a locally nurtured player exit, everyone wishes Van der Merwe well.
“Edwill grew up supporting WP and the Stormers and came up through our age group ranks so naturally we wanted to keep him here and, as we have said before, we did everything we could to do so.
“He had plenty of game time this year and as a result has hit some impressive form. He still has a big role to play for us until he leaves, so we are looking forward to seeing great tries and trademark celebrations,” said Dobson.
The coach said he will be announcing new signings to bolster the squad ahead of the URC.
Van der Merwe said he is grateful for the opportunities he has been given over the years to represent the teams he grew up supporting.
“Playing for WP and the Stormers was a dream of mine from an early age and there have been so many people who have contributed to my development as a player here, which I will always be grateful for,” he said.