Van der Merwe named Canada co-captain
The prolific finisher (pictured) is fresh from winning the Pro 12 final with the Scarlets, and has jetted out on international duty prior to starting with the Falcons next season.
And he will now be co-captain of a Canadian national squad which includes club-mate Evan Olmstead.
Canada begin their summer campaign against Georgia in Calgary on June 10 before hosting Romania in Edmonton on June 17. This precedes home-and-away tests against the USA, the first of which is in Hamilton on June 24 before the re-match in San Diego on July 1.
Those two games will decide which of the two teams becomes ‘Americas 1’ for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the USA squad including Newcastle Falcons lock Nick Civetta.
Prior to their games against Canada the Eagles face Ireland in New York on June 10 and Georgia on June 17 in Kennesaw.
Other Falcons players currently away on international duty include Mark Wilson, whose England squad kick-off their two-test tour of Argentina on Saturday. The 8.15pm UK-time kick-off will be shown live on BBC TV.
Vereniki Goneva and summer signing Tevita Cavubati are in Melbourne with the Fiji squad as they prepare to face Australia on Saturday, the 6am UK-time kick-off being shown live on Sky Sports.
Tonga’s summer campaign begins against Wales in Auckland on Friday June 16, with the Ikale Tahi yet to announce their squad.
At Under-20s level, meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons pair Jamie Blamire and Max Davies are with the England squad defending their Junior World Championship title in Georgia.
That campaign continues on Thursday when they face Australia, Ruaridh Dawson’s Scotland Under-20s side facing Italy the same day. Those games can be streamed live via the World Rugby website, with highlights on ITV4.