Rugby

Former SA prop gravely ill

2013-01-03 14:12
Morne van der Merwe (File)

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 career.

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.

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