DTH van der Merwe is looking forward to beginning a new chapter in his career after signing for Major League Rugby (MLR) side LA Giltinis.
The 34-year-old wing will join the Los Angeles-based outfit ahead of their debut season in the MLR in March.
The Canadian said: “I only see big benefits for Canadian and US rugby because, in the years down the line, kids at school will be looking at the Giltinis and MLR players with the thought, ‘I want to be like them’.
“Personally, I’m really buzzing to play in the sun in a city so fanatical about sports because Los Angeles was the only place I wanted to be being so close to home in Canada.”
Van der Merwe has been without a club since leaving Glasgow Warriors at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and admitted it was difficult to leave Scotland after more than 100 appearances during two spells with Glasgow, where he won the PRO12 title in 2015.
“It has been home. Glasgow has been great – we loved our time there and it’s something I’ll never forget.”
Despite being the club’s all-time record try scorer, he was deemed surplus to requirements by Danny Wilson when he took over as Glasgow head coach.
“It was a bit disappointing. I met Danny for the first time in January and he said they’d think about it, but not to hold my breath, and then he told me there wasn’t going to be a place for me anymore.
“You’ve got to just take it on the chin.”
With no contract on offer at Glasgow, and the UK in lockdown, DTH – whose full name is Daniel Tailliferre Hauman – and his wife Gillian were forced into a unique method of selling their home in the middle of the pandemic.
“The estate agents were all closed so we decided to try and sell the house ourselves. My wife actually ended up selling the house in two days on Facebook.”
The pandemic denied the popular wing a farewell appearance – the same fate he suffered with Canada after their final 2019 Rugby World Cup match was cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis – and he was disappointed not to be able to say goodbye.
“Not everyone gets that fairy tale ending – the same as my Canadian career. You saw Premiership teams extend the contracts of players who were leaving to let them see out the season – that would have been a lovely touch and something I would have respected.”
However, Warriors fans may have one eye on Giltinis results next season after they also signed ex-Glasgow and Scotland back row Adam Ashe earlier this week, while they’ve added former Exeter Chiefs and Australia forward Dave Dennis ahead of their debut MLR campaign.
Giltinis coach Darren Coleman is delighted to have secured Van der Merwe’s signing: “He has been Canada’s premier back for years and I’m really excited to have him part of the new franchise.
“He’s a genuine athlete, fast, agile and aggressive, and he’ll be a great mentor for younger backs in our squad.”