Kiwi rates forgotten Bok

2011-03-29 22:17
Heinke van der Merwe playing for Leinster
Michael Green

Port Elizabeth - The Springbok selectors will be making a mistake if they forget about former Lions prop Heinke van der Merwe.

That is the view of new Eastern Province-Kings Kiwi signing Clint Newland. He and Van der Merwe were team-mates for Irish side Leinster until recently.

Prior to that Newland (30) had played more than 100 games for Hawkes Bay, over 30 for the Highlanders and represented the New Zealand Maoris on four occasions.

So it's worth listening when the experienced prop, who has signed with the Kings for two years, talks about another front-ranker.

“Heinke is definitely one of the strongest and best front-rankers playing in Ireland,” said Newland.

“He is very aggressive and hard-working. It was very nice for me to be able to pack down in the front row with him.”

Newland was surprised that Van der Merwe was not rated more highly in South Africa. To date, Van der Merwe has played only in one test and two tour matches for the Springboks.

At one stage there were attempts to convert him into a tighthead prop, but loosehead prop is his preferred position.

Newland also played a few times with former Cheetahs hooker Richardt Strauss at Leinster.

“He is also a good and enthusiastic player,” said Newland.

Newland himself does not dream of representing New Zealand anymore.

“I don’t think I will easily become an All Black. Of course it was my goal earlier in my career. My goal now is to one day represent the Kings in Super Rugby.”

Newland enjoys fishing - just like one of the Kings’ other front-rankers, Ronnie Uys.

“In that sense it’s very nice to be here in Port Elizabeth,” he said.


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