Duhan Van Der Merwe has resolved to ignore any social media trolls as he prepares to make his British and Irish Lions debut against Japan at Murrayfield.
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.
The rampaging 26-year-old wing has thrived in the Test arena by plundering eight tries in 10 caps with his tackle-busting performances during the Six Nations propelling him into Warren Gatland’s squad.
But his switch of allegiance to Scotland has seen him targeted online by disgruntled South Africans and ahead of Monday’s return to the country of his birth, he has decided to let his rugby do the talking.
“I’ve had a think about that and I’m just going to ignore all those kinds of bits. I’ve been ignoring all the stuff that people have been saying on social media,” Van Der Merwe said.
“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. I’ve put all that stuff behind me and focus on what I can focus.
“I know how I feel in my heart sitting here representing the Lions and that’s all that matters.”
When asked if the criticism motivates him, Van Der Merwe replied: “Yes it does.
“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.
“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 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.”
Having made his debut only in the autumn, Worcester-bound Van der Merwe has yet to play for Scotland in front of fans and is relishing the prospect of a 16,500 crowd at Murrayfield in only the third home match in Lions history.
“I’m buzzing and very excited to play and get my first start for the Lions in front of the fans,” Van der Merwe said.
“It’s been a very long time since I’ve played in front of fans – I can’t remember what it feels like.
“It’s our first game together and we’re going hard. We’re playing to win. We’ve only been together for two weeks and we want to go out there and get the result.”