Duhan van der Merwe has revealed he is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his team-mates and countrymen WP Nel and Cornell du Preez by staying in Scotland and qualifying for the national team through residency.
The 22-year-old winger, who signed for Edinburgh on a two-year deal in the summer after leaving French Top 14 side Montpellier Hérault during the summer, represented South Africa at Under-20 level but is still free to qualify for another country through residency based on the teams he faced in the 2014 Junior World Championships.
And van der Merwe – who also played for the Springboks’ sevens team at Under-18 level – could qualify to play for Scotland by 2020 if he stays at Edinburgh.
The rules on residency are set to change in 2019, meaning players signed after the Rugby World Cup will have to live in a country for five years in order to qualify for that nation.
Van der Merwe told STV: “My long-term goal is to stay here for a few years and maybe qualify to play for Scotland. That is my ambition, I am hoping that can happen.”
Scotland leapt ahead of the Springboks in the World Rugby rankings earlier this month as a result of political feuding and financial issues in South Africa.
And as a result, a number of players are turning to other leagues, such as those in Australia, Japan and Europe.
Van der Merwe, who played alongside ten other South Africans at Montpellier including former Blue Bulls team-mates Nico Janse van Rensburg, Wiaan Liebenberg and Jacques du Plessis, added: “I have always wanted to play international rugby but with all the stuff going on in South Africa I just decided that I was never going to get the opportunity to play there.
“I didn’t initially think about coming over here just to be eligible to play [for Scotland] after three years.”
But van der Merwe revealed that he asked about it when Edinburgh first made contact, and was told ‘if you are good enough [after three years] then you will be eligible [for Scotland].”
“I thought that was a good thing,” van der Merwe continued.
Van der Merwe, who grew up in the Western Cape, played in both of Edinburgh’s matches against Cheetahs and Southern Kings.