Grey College’s Pieter van der Merwe –  a class act at 12!

December 2023

Simply put, Grey College inside centre Pieter van der Merwe is hot property!

Right now in senior pro rugby it’s versatile Old Grey David Kriel (Class of 2017) who seems to have turned a corner in his fledgling career and is putting in useful performances in the 12-jersey for the high flying Bulls.

Before Kriel’s time at Grey, several students made big names for themselves via brilliant performances at inside centre. Robert Ebersohn, Francois Venter, Paul Jordaan and Jan Serfontein were as good as they come. All four played SA Schools. All four represented the SA u20 Baby Boks. All four went on to have successful senior rugby careers. Serfontein and Venter went all to the top and became Springboks.

Pieter van der Merwe’s talent and form suggests he belongs in the same conversation as the aforementioned great players.

The converted loose-forward was already one of the top players of 2023, thanks to eye-catching performances, which saw him combine elements of physicality, pace, strength on his feet and pure self-determination to rake up plenty of metres and memorable plays.  What really sets him apart is that dominance and confidence of this nature is normally reserved for seniors while he was still just an under-17, with a year to go.

This year at 1st XV level, he had star players Ian van der Merwe (10) and Benito Goede (13) to work with.

The only consideration is will he have the same exceptional quality on his inside and outside in 2024 to aid him reach the same dizzy heights of 2023?

It’s not an unusual requirement.

Robert Ebersohn had his twin Sias Ebersohn (10) and Johan “Schallas” van Schalkwyk (13).
Francois Venter had the likes of Franna du Toit (10) and Piet Lindeque (13)
Paul Jordaan had Johan Goosen (10) and William Small-Smith (13)
Jan Serfontein had Pieter Jordaan (10) and Dries Swanepoel (13)

2024 promises to be the schoolboy rugby “Year of the Inside Centre!”

Numerous hot prospects will be lining up to do plenty of damage on the schoolboy rugby fields across the country.

The list which is sure to grow already includes the following with 1st XV experience who are expected back in 2024:

A dozen of the best 12’s
As of March 2024 amongst those top performers:

1 Pieter vd Merwe Grey College Schoolboy rugby’s equivalent of a Danie Gerber / Brian o’Driscoll in a 12-jersey. His ability to stay upright in contact is tough enough to deal with. Then his weapons of defensive destruction includes his ability to transfer weight, injects pace and maneuver around the tacklers puts him somewhere near the summit of the list of best SBR players of 2024, if not on the very top.
2 Kobus Blanckenberg Paarl Gim With a low centre of gravity and plenty of power, excellent timed collections and deceptive pace, this direct runner more often than not dominates the advantage line collisions. Also able to shift a ball quickly and a workhorse on defence.
3 Sam Badenhorst Paul Roos The versatile midfielder did duty at 13 in 2023. He is swift but he can man-up in contact and has enough creative energy to partner up and make it happen for support runners on his outside or inside shoulders.
4 Janco Purchase Affies A pro rugby dream acquisition. Having the much sort after height and brawn, means he is naturally built for the big-times. The added bonus is he comes with a good rugby brain. Useful hands and vision plus some decent footballing skills, suggests that he has a high percentage chance of developing into a senior rugby household name one day.
5 Kurt Coetzee Oakdale Expected to play outside centre again this season, the very dependable and talented kingpin has an explosive like change of gear. This can also change his point of attack quite swiftly thanks to his speed. Another tick  is he is pace-kicker as well.
6 Luca Potgieter Outeniqua Another very powerfully built centre who can give a team much sort after gainline dominance and be an anchor on D.
7 Tom Baguley Michaelhouse Not the biggest or quickest but reliability is the name of his game when it comes to tucking or bashing or making key tackles. Shows senior player leadership by setting the example.
8 Zingce Simka Durban HS SA Sevens recognition says something about the skillset of this compact player with big thighs. Although more of a zig-zag carrier than a straight-line basher at the moment, his strength is still very evident.
9 Jared Coetzee Noordheuwel The benefactor of some well disguised moves, has seen him impress tackle busts and metres again after the initial point of contact.
10 Simon Liversage Diamantveld The gifted SA Colts cricketer is another who is a complete package all-rounder in terms of the run-kick-pass. Maybe not one for the big crash ball but playmaker potential exists. Decent place-kicker.
11 McMillen Mongwana Jeppe The glue that made the successful Jeppe backline stick in 2023, earned him a Craven Week call-up that year. Solid as a rock on D as well.
12 Rikus Wessels Pretoria BH The Candies midfielder is new on the list but showed some of what he’s all about with ball-in-hand at the NMI Toyota Noord-Suid.


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  1. avatar
    #7 Smallies

    There must be a family connection between Simon Liversage and Daan Liversage who played for Griquas a few years back

    24 March, 2024 at 15:26
  2. avatar
    #6 beet

    @Loubser (Comment #5)
    This is but one level in the journey though.
    Marius Louw is now a good example of a player who was probably underappreciated for a good part of his pro career, then gets himself into a good situation in a system that works for him and suddenly you have a reinvented player who plays like a major asset.

    Lots of time in 2024 to change opinions.

    24 March, 2024 at 14:10
  3. avatar
    #5 Loubser


    Sorry to say but Purchase for me is a BIG question mark, he might have length but sofar not impressive at all.
    24 March, 2024 at 13:46
  4. avatar
    #4 Kantman

    This is a great list of 12s after what I saw over first two days of Noord-Suid.

    23 March, 2024 at 22:57
  5. avatar
    #3 Smallies

    @Kaya 85 (Comment #2)

    6 January, 2024 at 11:22
  6. avatar
    #2 Kaya 85

    Frans Steyn? Did he play 12 at school?

    5 January, 2024 at 20:41
  7. avatar
    #1 Smallies

    Ek mag verkeerd wees maar ek dink Pieter se pa is Henk Van Der Merwe ,n boer van Barkley Oos ,op sy dag het hy vir Andre Venter uit die Vrystaat span gehou ….as ek reg is verstaan ek als ,Hy was kliphard…

    23 December, 2023 at 15:23

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