Ulster-based Marcell Coetzee says he has found a new lease on life after finally enjoying an extended run of injury-free rugby, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Coetzee made the move from the Durban-based Sharks to Ulster in 2016, but arrived with an ACL injury that delayed his debut for the the Irish club.
Coetzee would continue to be haunted by injuries, with the talented loose forward suffering damage next to his medial meniscal cartilage, while another ACL setback saw him ruled out for a further nine months.
After playing only a handful of games over two seasons, Coetzee eventually made his comeback in a Pro14 clash at the beginning of September, and has since gone from strength to strength.
Just this past weekend, Coetzee was a star performer as Ulster claimed a stunning 26-22 win against Racing 92 in the Champions Cup.
‘This has really been the first season where I have been able to establish my identity at Ulster, and show the people what I’ve got,’ an upbeat Coetzee reflected when SARugbymag.co.za caught up with him on Wednesday.
‘It was very challenging to be out injured for as long as I’ve been, I’m not going to lie. Those first couple of seasons, and missing around two years of rugby, it really tested my resolve.
‘It was also a testing time for the club itself, but things have really started coming together recently, and I’m just so grateful to have finally been able to enjoy an extended run where I’ve been injury-free.’
Coetzee is one of those rare loose forwards who is capable of playing across all three positions in the back row, but he has primarily been rotated between blindside flank, and even eighth man recently.
Coetzee, who boasts 28 Test caps to his name, said he was just so grateful to have been able to string a sequence of performances together.
‘It was definitely a mental battle to get going again in the first few games, and I’d say it was only after about six or seven games that I really felt I had got over the mental barrier.
‘I was also very rusty in the beginning, but the more I played, the better I started to feel in terms of finding my rhythm again. I’ve recently started to feel that I’ve got back up to speed, which has been really encouraging.’