Dynamic flanker Marcell Coetzee is determined to ‘leave his mark’ at the Sharks, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Coetzee has been one of the Sharks’ star performers at the start of their 2016 Super Rugby campaign, typically emerging as one of the tournament’s top-ranked breakdown exponents, with nine turnovers already to his name (according to the Vodacom Stats App).
The 24-year-old has also been appointed vice-captain this season, and has clearly taken ownership of his increased leadership responsibilities as one of the more experienced members of the squad despite his young age.
After five seasons with the Sharks, it was announced at the beginning of the year that Coetzee would be heading to Ulster after this Super Rugby campaign, but there’s also a slight glimmer of hope that his career prospects in South Africa could be revitalised.
It’s hoped that SA Rugby might come to the party in offering him a more attractive national contract, with the new Bok coach set to be named on 1 April.
Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that Coetzee’s focus is firmly set on contributing to the Sharks’ cause this season.
‘I told [Sharks director of rugby] Gary [Gold] right from the beginning that I’m not here to count down the days. I really want to contribute as a leader in the team, to add value wherever I can and hopefully help the youngsters. The Sharks are in a great space, there’s a great culture and it’s important for the senior players to step up,’ he told reporters in Durban.
‘Going to Belfast will be another opportunity and challenge, but I want to leave my mark here. In the future you never know, I’d love to come back, and I hope it’s not the end, but if it is, then I’d like to finish it well here.’
This Saturday the Sharks will take on the Crusaders at Kings Park, and Coetzee said he expected a highly competitive battle at the breakdown even though Richie McCaw was no longer in the ranks of the seven-times champs.
‘The legacy McCaw left for the youngsters to grasp and feed off was exceptional, and I don’t think their approach to the breakdown will be any different. They are very good at the breakdown, they have a breakdown mentality, every player contributes and it’s certainly going to be an area where we pay a lot of attention.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images