Van der Merwe: "There's a big buzz."

Van der Merwe: "There's a big buzz."

He's been in scintillating form this season - scoring 11 tries in 17 games - but in-form winger Duhan van der Merwe believes it will have been for nothing if Edinburgh don't capitalise on their 'buzz' and make a push for silverware.

The winger started in Friday's defeat to Glasgow Warriors and will be looking to make his mark this Saturday as Edinburgh face Ulster in the club's first-ever home Semi-Final at BT Murrayfield.

Van der Merwe - who has thrived in a back-three alongside Blair Kinghorn and Darcy Graham - believes he and his teammates are in a good place heading into a game that many are calling the biggest league fixture in the club's history.

"There is a big buzz," said the winger. "I was obviously not involved when we reached the European Semi-Final against Ulster in 2012, but the club has not been in this situation for a long time, so it has to be now. We have to go out this week and beat Ulster.

“I’m just glad to be back playing, to be honest. At one point I thought they were just going to scrap the whole season and we were in such a good spot. I was in lockdown thinking: ‘Surely give us a shot – we’ve not been a position like this in however long Edinburgh has been a club’.

"It is obviously exciting that we now have this opportunity. It is massive for the club and it is massive for the boys."

In Ulster, Edinburgh face a team packed with quality across the board, but perhaps not full in confidence. The Belfast club have lost both games since returning from lockdown [against Connacht and Leinster] and will be travelling to BT Murrayfield where Edinburgh have lost just once since April 2019.

The two sides share plenty of history too, with Edinburgh suffering defeat to Ulster in both the 2012 Champions Cup Semi-Final and the 2003 Celtic Cup Final. Edinburgh have got the better of Ulster in recent seasons however, with a late Duncan Weir drop goal proving the difference at Kingspan Stadium in 2017.

“Ulster are obviously a very good side. They are physical, they’ve got a big pack of forwards and they’ve got a good backline who can chuck it about, so it is going to be a tough one that's for sure.

“They are [a bit like Edinburgh] because they have the ability out wide to to chuck it around and do something a bit magical, and then they have the big guns up front who carry it into you."

Saturday's Semi-Final will perhaps have extra incentive for Van der Merwe with the winger now qualified to play for Scotland. The 6ft 3 in flyer will be looking to prove himself on club rugby's biggest stage, while coming up against proven internationalists such as Jacob Stockdale.

“Obviously, since I have become Scottish qualified, things have changed for me personally because now I know I need to perform every single game, not just to be in the Edinburgh starting XV but to get a chance to play for Scotland.

"That’s definitely in the back of my mind because I know I am competing against Blair, Darcy, the Glasgow wingers, guys who have played before for Scotland, so I know there is a lot of competition there, so I just want to be performing at my best and hopefully get a shot.

“I do want to eventually play for Scotland and I do want to give it a crack, but for now I am just really focussed on performing for Edinburgh in the Semi-Finals and hopefully getting some silverware for the club – that would be amazing."

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