ANY hopes Scotland might have had of  springing a surprise on Canada by naming a host of uncapped players for their first tour match were dashed when DTH van der Merwe, Glasgow Warriors’ record try scorer, was made captain of their opponents.

It was almost as if Kingsley Jones, the Welshman who coaches Canada coach, had made his choice simply to unsettle the Scots who have taken seven uncapped players on tour and left as many top choices behind.

While the cost in experience was huge, they might at least have have had the hope of an element of suprise since the likes of George Horne, Adam Hastings and Matt Fagerson are totally untested at this level. Then van der Merwe was brought in and he makes no bones about where his loyalties lie this month.

“There are aspects of their game I know inside out and which I will be trying to pass on to my team,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s Canada versus Scotland and anything I can do to dissect the opposition is going to help us in this game.

“It doesn’t matter what team Scotland put out, it will be an exciting group of guys with players like George Horne and Adam Hastings, guys who love playing with the ball in hand. They play an exciting brand of rugby with Glasgow already. I was coached by Gregor [Townsend] for years and he likes to play that style of rugby, too.”

In fact, that may be the biggest plus for Canada. Van der Merwe enjoyed his glory years at Glasgow while Townsend was coach, racing past Thom Evans to reach 43 tries, also scoring in the 2015 Guinness PRO12 final, when Glasgow won their first cross-border silverware. Few players know the Scotland coach better.

He returned to Glasgow in March after two years at Scarlets and an ill-fated spell at Newcastle Falcons. He has since gone on to reach 47 tries and played his 100th game in the last match of Glasgow’s regular season – and subsequently the PRO14 semi final – before flying to rejoin his national side last week.

He knows he has a big job on his hands. Canada have slipped to 21st in the world rankings and failed to grab either of the two Americas qualification spots for the World Cup when they lost to the USA and Uruguay in quick order. Their last chance comes through repechage games in November.

“We had a brief leaders’ group meeting, trying to set some goals. At the moment we’re going to focus on just the three games: try to get some positive feedback and play out of that,” van der Merwe said.

“Once the tour is parked away, we’ll know a little bit more about who’ll play [the repechage] in November. We’ll start discussing that.

“Obviously we’ve not made it there yet. We’re still fresh from the losses against Uruguay in January and February to try and put all our cards on the deck for November. We think it’s better for a young group of guys who are there at the moment just to focus on the games at hand and then we’ll reconvene after the tour.”

Then he only has to think back four years to know that if Canada can get their act together, then experimental Scottish teams are there for the taking. In 2014, with Vern Cotter two weeks into his stint as Scotland head coach, Canada lost 19-17 in a game that produced a burning sense of injustice.

Canada had a kickable penalty coming when the officials went back to have a look at an earlier incident, eventually reversing the penalty and red card Jeb Sinclair – a decision that cost Canada the chance to win the game. To rub salt in wounds, World Rugby decided the offence was so mild Sinclair was cleared to play the next week.

“That was a great game for us, we played really well and took our chances well,” van der Merwe said. “We got unlucky with that call right at the end. We had a penalty in our favour, with James Prichard lining up to kick, but it was brought back for an elbow to Jacko’s [Ruaridh Jackson’s] face. We got penalised for his [Jackson’s] bad tackling technique.

“That was a great day. Hopefully we can get that kind of support again from the people in Edmonton. I’m looking forward to it. We’re still probably in a bit of a rebuild phase.

“We’ve had a bit of disruption coming from the 2015 World Cup with Kieran Crowley leaving after a bit of uncertainty. It’s very tough for us at the moment, the results haven’t been good.”