Dan McFarland believes Ulster will head into the PRO14 final against Leinster as underdogs and, should they have a chance to claim the title, it will depend on the performance of Marcell Coetzee.
Ulster will square off against defending champions and title favourites Leinster in the PRO14 final at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Coetzee has been in sublime form in recent weeks and was front and centre during their stunning upset of Edinburgh in the semi-final last weekend.
According to McFarland, Coetzee’s performance against Edinburgh didn’t go unnoticed, with the player that Ulster had invested so much in after his first two injury-plagued seasons, delivered when it mattered against Edinburgh.
Leinster’s squad is filled with Irish internationals, but McFarland is adamant much of their forward momentum and title hopes will come down to Coetzee, their ‘clutch player’.
‘He’s a courageous man. He doesn’t win many man-of-the-match awards, but that is because John Cooney wins so many of them, isn’t it,’ said McFarland.
‘Coetzee is a massive player; physically he is massive but he also makes clutch plays and in these games you need clutch players.’
‘Johnny Sexton is a clutch player. When you need him to kick a penalty to the corner and land it five metres from the line, he just pulls it out the bag. Marcell, when you need a jackal, he just pulls it out of the bag.
‘In the last 20 minutes when you need a number of muscular carries, he will do that for you. He works tirelessly for us and he is a great man to have around as well. He is what a lot of psychologists would describe as “social blue”.
‘He doesn’t lead in the sense of telling people what to do the whole time, but he has a way about him that pulls people together and makes people feel as if they are part of it, and they are important. I’ve got a lot of respect for Marcell.’
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