DTH van der Merwe was left reflecting on a whirlwind debut for Newcastle Falcons as the Canadian try machine opened his account in Saturday’s 33-32 Aviva Premiership triumph at Bath.
The flying winger dotted down a first-half try from Craig Willis’ well-weighted kick to the right corner, saying afterwards: “I couldn’t have asked for a better kick from Craig because it was absolutely perfect.
“The amount of spin on the ball was incredible and I don’t think Bath knew what to make of it, but he gave me an opportunity and I’m here to take those kinds of chances.”
Having been made to wait for his Falcons debut by the knee injury suffered during Canada’s Rugby World Cup qualification campaign, the two-time Pro 12 winner said: “It has been tough being injured but I’ve been training hard, hoping I can get in and waiting for the injury to get better.
“My family have settled in really well, it’s great living in Newcastle and I’ve loved it so far.
“I felt like it was a bit rusty on my part today because I’ve not played since June, but training has been good. There has been a lot of running, we want to play a fast-paced game with no fear and even though we fell away during the middle third we pulled through in the end.”
The mid-game slump referred to came on the back of a flying start which saw a rampant Newcastle side going 19-0 up before conceding 32 unanswered points, a late rally salvaging a memorable third away league win in succession.
Van der Merwe said: “I think it was just confidence at the start. Once you get that first score you feel like you want to keep going, and that’s what made the difference. The middle third was one to forget but through sheer perseverance we pulled through, and it’s a great feeling.
“We’ll obviously go back and look at the video to understand what went wrong either side of half-time, and from my own viewpoint I need to find what I can do better.”
Sat in the top echelons of the table after three wins from four ahead of Friday’s visit of London Irish, he said: “We’re only four games in but it’s so far, so good, and we really dug it out.
“We could not have asked for a much better start to the season. We should have come away with something from the Saracens game but we showed up well in the other three, and it’s awesome to get five points at Bath after not winning there as a club for a very long time.
“Our captain Will Welch gave us a hell of a dusting down underneath the posts after Bath scored their last try, and there were a few home truths. The guys responded to that, we put in a big finish and ultimately got the win.
“In terms of Friday’s game London Irish are a team who kept pretty much all their players when they went down, and have since added key signings. Napolioni Nalaga on the wing is a big acquisition for them and they have some big threats out wide, and they can also play through the middle. It’s set to be an entertaining game but we’ve just got to come out with the belief we had at Bath.”
Tickets for Friday’s 7.45pm kick-off at Kingston Park are available by clicking here.