‘Coetzee is world’s best openside’

Sharks assistant coach Brad Macleod-Henderson says Bok flank Marcell Coetzee was 'a little unlucky' not to be named the 2014 SA Player of the Year.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's match against the Cheetahs, Macleod-Henderson was effusive in his praise of the 23-year-old flank, who produced some fine performances at Vodacom Super Rugby and international level in 2014.

'I think I said it last year already – I think Marcell Coetzee is the world's best openside,' said Macleod-Henderson. 'Not only is he a devastating threat at the breakdown, he is also a fantastic ball carrier.

'He had an unbelievable season last year and I think he was maybe a little unlucky to be pipped by Duane Vermeulen [at the Saru awards evening where Coetzee was a finalist for Player of the Year alongside Vermeulen].

'Against Toulon he had a brilliant, brilliant game, he is firing on all cylinders and we can't wait to see him on Saturday.'

The numbers make for interesting reading. Coetzee was the most effective South African at the breakdown during the 2014 Super Rugby season, winning 18 turnovers to Vermeulen's 13.

He also made more offloads and missed less tackles than the Stormers No 8. However, Vermeulen beat more defenders with ball in hand and made more metres from less carries.

Macleod-Henderson believes there is more to come from Coetzee, and is excited to see how he continues to develop during the season ahead.

'Marcell has a brilliant work ethic, he is always looking to work and do the extras,' the coach added. 'He is still a young guy who is evolving his game, he is still going to grow and improve and we look forward to watching that happen.'

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images