Marcell Coetzee: The man the Springboks need
REACTION: There is a lot of doubt over South Africa’s readiness for possible participation in the Rugby Championship but one player who would definitely be ready to front any Springbok challenge if he was required is Ulster No8 Marcell Coetzee.
The former Sharks loose-forward, who has been linked to a possible return home with the Bulls as the likely destination, continues to shine in every PRO14 game he plays but in starring for Ulster in their impressive 24-12 away win over the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium he was even more dominant than he normally is.
The man credited with the most carries in PRO14 last year was described as “one of the best loose-forwards in the northern hemisphere” in reports after the game and on the evidence of his commanding performance that is no exaggeration.
A decision on the Rugby Championship was expected on Monday but even if the Boks don’t go to Australia for the four-nation international tournament Coetzee must get a strong look-in for next year’s Lions series. That will partially make up for the bad luck he has had which prevented him from being part of the last two Springbok World Cup campaigns.
Coetzee scored the second of the two Ulster tries was a relentless force around the field throughout the match and his assist played a bit part in the first try scored by fullback Jacob Stockdale, who himself might have been man of the match were it not for Coetzee’s behemoth impact on the game.
The Ulster back-row appeared to make several metres every time he had ball in hand and played a big part in getting the winners onto the front foot.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) October 10, 2020
Talking of South African born No.8, playing in the PRO14, there was another to the fore in the significant win that Johan van Graan’s Munster scored over the 2019/2020 beaten finalists Edinburgh. Unfortunately, former Riversdale schoolboy CJ Stander is now well established with Ireland and never got to play for the land of his birth, but his influence in his adopted country continues to be immense.
Stander capped a great allround game by finishing off a typical forwards try in the 78th minute which brought Munster level with Edinburgh at 23-all, with Ben Healy, who had missed an important kick earlier, kicking the match winning conversion to give the Irish province a morale-boosting 25-23 win and thus retaining their unbeaten record after two rounds.
Another South African overseas international, Scotland prop WP Nel, crashed over for one of Edinburgh’s tries and former Lions and Bulls flyhalf Jaco van der Walt continued his points accumulation with a good kicking display from the tee.
It was a home game for Munster so Van Graan won’t get too excited about it and he might be concerned that his men took 77 minutes to get over the line when they dominated so much of the play from later in the first half onwards. However, he’s in a better position than the Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill who watched his team slip to their fifth successive defeat in all competitions, a slide that started with their last gasp defeat to Ulster in the 2019/2020 semi-final at Murrayfield.
Their fellow Scotland team, Glasgow Warriors, who are also laden with South Africans, did get off the mark in the current edition of the competition when they scored an impressive 20-7 win over Scarlets at Scotstoun, with former Western Province and SA under-20 prop Ollie Kebble very much to the fore in their forward effort.