Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is excited to see what Marcell Coetzee offers at No 8 against Argentina at Loftus on Saturday.
Coetzee, who is based in Belfast at Irish club Ulster, featured in South Africa’s first Rugby Championship game against the Wallabies but missed out on selection in the two games against the All Blacks and Argentina.
On Wednesday, the 28-year-old was named as the starting eighthman in the Bok team to front Los Pumas in a World Cup warm-up match in Pretoria. And Erasmus believes it is the perfect platform for Coetzee to exhibit his versatility as a utility loose forward.
‘We know what Marcell can do at openside, we’ve seen him play there. But this is a nice opportunity for him to show his versatility [in the loose trio],’ Erasmus said.
‘It’ll be nice to know what he can do at No 8 in a loose-trio combination with Siya [Kolisi] and Reinhardt [Elstadt]. I’m looking forward to what he can do there.’
Coetzee is one of several fringe loose forwards in contention for World Cup selection and Erasmus says he is fortunate to have such depth of back-row quality available to him.
‘I’d say between Kwagga [Smith], Reinhardt [Elstadt], Marcell and even Marco [van Staden], who’s on the bench, there are quality loose forwards.
‘I thought the guys would be injured at this stage, but they fought on and are all playing well.’
Erasmus was also full of praise for Smith’s remarkable work rate despite the disparity in size between him and his more traditionally bigger loose-forward peers.
‘Physically, Kwagga doesn’t stand back for anyone. With him you shouldn’t look at weight but at his output, according to which he is doing the same work as the other [heavier] guys,’ the Bok coach explained.
‘He is one of the guys we could’ve rested, but the reason we have him on the bench is because we’ll probably have to take Siya off the field early and it’s another opportunity for Kwagga to perform.’