In an exciting move for South African rugby, Akker van der Merwe, the former Springboks hooker, has officially joined the Bulls after bidding farewell to his English Premiership club, Sale Sharks.
This news was confirmed by officials on Friday, bringing a wave of anticipation for what lies ahead. Sharks director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, expressed his disappointment at losing such a valuable player, praising Van der Merwe’s significant contributions during his time at the club.
Sanderson spoke highly of the hooker, describing him as someone who brings infectious energy to everything he does, with a voice that resonates through the training ground walls.
While the Bulls have yet to make an official announcement regarding Van der Merwe’s signing, an insider revealed to SurgeZirc SA that the accomplished hooker will indeed be joining the franchise.
This addition comes at a crucial time as former Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis recently retired, leaving a vacancy that Van der Merwe is more than capable of filling.
The Bulls’ hooker position will now witness a thrilling battle between Van der Merwe and Johan Grobbelaar, who many consider unlucky for not being in contention for a place in the 2023 Rugby World Cup squad. Both players will strive to prove their worth and secure the coveted number two jersey.
At 32 years old, Van der Merwe brings a wealth of experience to the Bulls, who have been actively strengthening their squad under the guidance of director of rugby, Jake White.
White firmly believes that bolstering the team’s ranks is essential if they are to compete for European trophies in the near future.
Historically, the Bulls have enjoyed tremendous success, having clinched the Super Rugby title three times in a remarkable four-season span from 2007.
Additionally, they boast an impressive record in the Currie Cup, securing the championship 25 times and establishing themselves as one of the most successful sides in the tournament’s history.
Despite these accolades, the Bulls have faced challenges in European competitions. After a breathtaking victory over Leinster in Dublin, propelling them to the 2022 United Rugby Championship (URC) final, they ultimately succumbed to their compatriots, the Stormers.
This setback has fueled their determination to bounce back stronger.This year, however, the Bulls experienced disappointment, enduring a disheartening 33-9 defeat at the hands of Toulouse in the Champions Cup round of 16.
Subsequently, they faced another setback with a 33-21 loss to the Stormers in a URC quarter-final match. As Van der Merwe joins the Bulls, the entire team will look to harness his expertise and infectious energy, propelling them to greater heights.
With their sights set on European success, the Bulls are determined to regroup, learn from their recent challenges, and forge a path towards triumphant performances on the rugby field.