Marcell Coetzee says he enjoyed his new role in the loose trio against the World XV on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
With injuries to Duane Vermeulen and Willem Alberts placing both bruising loose forwards in a race to be fit for the World Cup, Coetzee was deployed in the relatively unfamiliar position of blindside flank.
The 24-year-old produced an industrious performance, the highlight of which was the massive tackle he made on World XV flank Jordan Taufua in the second half.
Coetzee said he knew it was important to be able to fulfill the role of physical ‘enforcer’ in the absence of Vermeulen and Alberts.
‘Obviously it’s a big loss for our team, Duane and Willem are great leaders and players, and they bring a lot of physicality to the game. But you have to be ready to step up if someone is unavailable, and that’s what’s good about our system. Each player has a different way they like to play, and for me personally, I also enjoy the physical side of things and I’m willing to play anywhere in the loose trio.’
However, Coetzee admitted that it was important to stick to his natural strengths, with the regular openside flank offering another threat at the breakdown.
‘The important thing is just to stick to what you’re good at. I want to pride myself on my skills at the breakdown, [Springbok breakdown consultant] Richie Gray helped me a lot to grow in that role. And also with the ball-carrying role, that’s something I’ve tried to develop. It’s good to be able to add things to your arsenal as a player.’
Although there was a keen focus on the performance of the Boks’ new-look loose trio, Coetzee said he hadn’t felt any extra nerves.
‘With guys like Jean [de Villiers] and Bryan [Habana] around it helps you to keep calm and composed. With the loose forwards we have in South Africa, there is so much competition, and so you just want to give your all and do justice to the jersey every time there is an opportunity.
‘It’s always special playing for the Boks, we’re all like brothers and that brings the best out of you. As a team I think we produced a good performance, there is still a lot we can rectify, but it was a good start.’
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