Wellington - Morne van der Merwe is not one of the all-time great players to have
worn a Wellington jersey. Nonetheless, the prop's place in Lions rugby
history is assured, having been part of the Norm Hewitt-captained team of
2000 who were the last Wellington (New Zealand) side to claim a national provincial
championship (NPC) title.
But, according to The Dominion Post's Hamish Bidwell, at 39-years-old, Van der Merwe has just days to live.
The 124kg South African front rower was diagnosed with a brain tumour two years ago
and his wife, Cindy, is hurriedly putting together mementoes of his life
to keep for the couple's two young boys.
Van der Merwe was a stalwart of the Eastern Province, Western
Province and Stormers teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s but the
two years he spent playing in Wellington were among the happiest of his
Not only did he win a national provincial championship final in 2000
but he very nearly helped take the Ranfurly Shield off Canterbury the
following year. In the eyes of many Lions fans, only referee Steve Walsh
denied Wellington that opportunity.
They were wonderful times for the van der Merwes, who had originally come to Wellington as part of an elongated honeymoon.