Marcell Coetzee says the decision to move back to South Africa from Ulster was largely driven by a desire to return ‘home’.
Coetzee found himself in a fortunate position during the period of lockdown earlier this year. With European competition placed on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Springbok found a home in the South African bush with his wife Chanelle.
Based at a guesthouse in Marloth Park, which borders the Kruger National Park, his daily routine included morning runs in the bush and regular interactions with wildlife, while some of the local community ‘donated’ equipment to be used for his gym work.
When SA Rugby magazine caught up with Coetzee via a Zoom video chat in mid-May, he spoke passionately about South Africa, and his desire to do everything in his power to put himself in the best possible position to face the British & Irish Lions in 2021.
And, over this past weekend, it was confirmed that Coetzee is now set to leave Ulster at the end of the 2020-21 season. He will be joining the Vodacom Bulls.
When reflecting on the decision to make the move back home from Ireland, he stated: ‘It all started during lockdown when I was back home for four months. My wife and I did a lot of thinking together about life and we also reflected on where I am in my career,’ he said.
‘I decided to come back to Belfast with an open mind, but ultimately we miss home, the South African culture and way of life – and after five seasons the longing for home has just caught up with us.
‘I must say Ulster have been absolutely superb to me, on and off the field during my career, and I feel I have grown as a person and as a player for the experiences the club has given me. Ulster will always have a special place in the hearts of my wife and I.’