Stormers second-row David Meihuizen talks to Gavin Harper about his international options
The South African lock on Scotland’s radar
Stormers lock David Meihuizen was something of a latecomer to rugby but he is already on Scotland’s radar.
The 23-year-old, 6ft 9in lock has enjoyed a rapid rise to the sport, having been a water polo player of some note in his youth. His rugby career began at Paarl Boys’ High School in 2015, where he was catapulted into the first XV.
“I didn’t really play rugby at the time, but the coach asked if I wanted to try out (for the first team) and I made it into the squad,” he says. “I decided to play one more year of rugby, and then I was offered a place by Western Province’s academy.”
A handful of games for the U19s and a bursary at the University of Cape Town followed. Meihuizen continued to shine on the field and made his Stormers debut last year.
“It was daunting at first playing with some of the Springboks guys – I didn’t want to let them down – but the more time that I’ve trained with them and spent with them, it has become easier.”
With a Glasgow-born mum and a grandfather from Edinburgh, Scottish Rugby have been in touch about his availability, but Meihuizen is keen to keep his international options open – for the time being at least – with his current focus on playing for the country of his birth.
“Obviously the ultimate goal would be to represent the Springboks,” he says. “I spoke to them (Scottish Rugby) about possibly moving to Edinburgh, but I decided that the time wasn’t quite right.
“My grandad is from Edinburgh and my mum’s from Glasgow and they’ve always told us of our Scottish heritage, especially my grandad.
“I remember once my grandad gave us kilts as a present for Christmas, and when we were really young, I must only have been about four, he let my brother and I watch Braveheart.
“We were scarred for a while after because it’s not the kind of film most young kids watch, but he’s always been really proud of his Scottish roots.
“A few of my mates at school used to joke and say that I was destined to play for Scotland.”
Meihuizen is keen to stress that he wouldn’t see playing for Scotland as a second-best option, saying: “If that is what comes, then I would be very proud to represent Scotland,” he said, while adding the pride may be too much for his grandfather.
“I think he might combust if I was to play for Scotland – it could be too much for him to cope with! He would be really proud.”
For now, Meihuizen wants to see out his current deal with Stormers and Western Province, especially with the incentive of facing the British & Irish Lions should the tour go ahead this summer.
“I want to stay here for now and my dream is to play against the Lions. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it would be great to be part of that.”
A chance to face the touring Lions would also give Meihuizen a potential shot at one of his heroes.
“I always looked up to Victor Matfield – I am not the biggest guy, so I pride myself on my lineout, and he was one of the best in the world, but another guy I’ve always admired is Alun Wyn Jones, so it would be an unbelievable experience if I got to play against him.”
Whether his international future lies in green and gold, or navy blue, Meihuizen knows that he wants to cement himself as one of the greats of his time. “I want people to remember me – I want to create my own legacy and be a role model for kids in the future.”
A giant of a man with giant ambitions, David Meihuizen could well wind up towering over the international game for some time to come if his career continues on its lofty trajectory.
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