WHEN Edinburgh Rugby winger Duhan van der Merwe first arrived in Scotland, he admits he did not quite understand what the fuss was about when it came to the Edinburgh-Glasgow derby games.

But two years on, the 24-year-old now knows exactly what the rivalry is all about.

On Saturday, Edinburgh will travel to Scotstoun to take on Glasgow Warriors for the first leg of this season’s 1872 Cup. And van der Merwe will be fully fired up for the task in hand – getting one over their great rivals.

“I couldn’t quite understand the excitement at first but since I’ve been here it’s been ‘oh we really need you to be up for the Glasgow game’,” he said.

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“This is my third season here now and there is a real buzz throughout the week. Playing against a team like Glasgow, they play a really exciting brand of rugby and obviously people are going against each other for Scotland spots and all that kind of stuff so it’s nice and I’m looking forward to it.”

Edinburgh go into the Glasgow double-header as favourites as not only have they won four of the last five 1872 Cups, they are in the better form in the Pro14 too.

Much of the improvement of Edinburgh has been due to the competition for places within the squad.

Van der Merwe is in excellent form this season but he is by no means an automatic pick for a starting place and that, he admits, helps him to push his game onto the next level.

“There is more competition on the wings and that helps me more as a player,” he said.

“I know if I don’t perform someone else is going to take my place. We’ve got some threat in that back three. Blair (Kinghorn) and Darcy (Graham) can cause a lot of damage.”

And van der Merwe has an intense rivalry going with his teammate Mark Bennett, with the pair vying to be the club’s top try-scorer come the end of the season. Bennett took the early lead but as it stands, van der Merwe has sneaked into the lead and he intends to remain there.

“Mark Bennett was four zero up on me,” he said.

“I was like ‘fine mate you keep on scoring’. I think the score is 6-5 now. Obviously it’s my job to score tries and at the moment I’m confident.”

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Van der Merwe was born and bred in South Africa but on the residency rules, he becomes eligible to represent Scotland from next summer. He would be the latest in a long line of overseas players to pull on the Scotland jersey but with the Glasgow games on the horizon, van der Merwe admits international rugby is far from his mind.

“I’m just focused on playing for Edinburgh,” he said.

“I don’t want to look too far ahead. Once that opportunity comes I will obviously grab it with both hands but at the moment I’m just focused on performing every weekend for Edinburgh.”