PATIENCE paid off for Duhan van der Merwe on Friday night, in two different ways. First, there was the simple fact of making his Scotland debut after waiting three years to qualify on residential grounds. Second, he had to bide his time against Georgia before getting a real chance to score, but when it came he took it superbly.

Appearing on the international stage cannot have been uppermost in the winger’s mind when he signed for Edinburgh in 2017. Having played only four times in the previous season for Montpellier, the French club he joined after leaving his native South Africa, his priority was simply getting regular game time.

But it did not take him long to settle down to his new life in the PRO14, and once a bit of tactical polish was added to his formidable raw power, it became apparent that, provided he continued to progress, he would be ready for Test rugby when the opportunity arose.

Fast forward to Friday, and a moment early on in Scotland’s 48-7 win which illustrated how Van der Merwe’s reputation has grown. Far from being an unknown quantity as debutants always used to be, the 25-year-old had been earmarked as a danger man: hence, on his first possession, three defenders closed him down, with a fourth in attendance if required.

“I was actually saying to myself after the first five minutes ‘Wow, I feel really marked, there’s not much space’,” Van der Merwe said after the match. “Obviously in international rugby they really analyse you and stuff, so I just have to work around that and find ways to beat guys.”

Clearly, if you devote several men to keeping track of a single opponent, gaps appear elsewhere, and as the game wore on the Georgian defence was increasingly exposed. In the end Scotland scored eight tries, with Van der Merwe getting the sixth after venturing infield and being put through by Finn Russell.

“We spoke about getting myself on the ball more than 10 times, and that was my mission going into this game,” he explained. “So, I just said to myself ‘Get on Finn’s inside’, and luckily enough he put me away. Getting my first dot down was amazing – it was very special to score on my debut.

“I loved it. It was a very emotional day for me. I was very proud to get my first cap for Scotland. I came to Edinburgh in 2017 and three- and-a-half years later I think I’m a completely different player. It was very special for me.

“I was obviously nervous, but [Scotland coach] Gregor [Townsend] and the coaches just said to me to get out and do my thing. That calmed me down a lot, but you are going to be nervous getting your first cap. Now that’s done, hopefully I’ll lose a bit of nervousness next time . . . . But I probably won’t.”

Next time should be Saturday, when Scotland play Wales in the Six Nations match that was postponed at short notice in March. The back three for the last competitive fixture – the 28-17 win over France – was Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Blair Kinghorn, but there are several potential reasons why Townsend will change that.

First, having been one of the Barbarians players to breach Covid protocols and bring about the cancellation of the game against England, Maitland could be subject to disciplinary action by Scotland, for all that Townsend declined to offer an instant judgment on Friday night.

Second, Darcy Graham was out injured in February and March, whereas against Georgia he showed glimpses of his best form.

And third, Van der Merwe, ineligible in the spring, is too potent an attacking threat to be ignored.

Kinghorn started as full-back on Friday but will surely surrender the No.15 jersey to Hogg, the returning captain. He can play on the wing too, so it makes sense to have him on the bench covering the back three, with Graham and Van der Merwe keeping their places out wide.

Van der Merwe knows himself that he is far from being the finished article at Test level. But then the best way to help him keep up his remarkable progress is simply to keep picking him.