And after the season that Coetzee has enjoyed with the Lions, one would think that the prospect of him stepping into the Bok set-up should have seemed like a reality from the very start of his Super Rugby season.
Coetzee has been instrumental for the Lions this season with his reliable boot and his hard work that always seems to be done while others shine, but this season he has impressed by not only doing what he’s been doing all along, but also by producing performances that will make sure that he won’t have to be described as an “unsung hero” again.
Still, he is by no means flashy, but very, very reliable and, maybe more importantly - consistent.
Usually when you use the words “reliable” to describe a player the first thing that comes to mind is “boring”, or a player who does only the basics and who does them well.
And that is not Coetzee.
The versatile back knows how to beat defenders and how to break through defences, and he knows a thing or two about running stunning lines. As far as his kicking goes well, that speaks for itself.
And although the on-form fullback says that his inclusion seems like more of a reality now, he says it still hasn’t really sunk in that he could get a chance to prove himself in a jersey other than Lions’ – despite what he’s done this season.
Coetzee is one of eight uncapped players in Allister Coetzee’s 31-man squad for the three-Test series against France this month – an achievement that the 27-year-old described as an “emotional” experience.
“Last week it still felt like a dream and I told my parents that it would probably start sinking in this week. The nerves were there of course, but as soon as you get onto the field you feel at home. It’s a big dream, but it’s starting to feel like reality now,” Coetzee said.
Coetzee was included in the second Springbok training camp in Stellenbosch and the third one in Johannesburg, and despite being included in two Bok camps, the former Sharks player says that he never really expected the Bok call-up for the Test series.
“It’s something that you always work towards, it’s always a dream. And when I was included in the second training group you know, when something like that happens you realise that you’re actually so close. It was very emotional (his inclusion in Bok squad), but you never expect it because you never want to expect something that might not happen,” he said.
And now that it has happened, Coetzee believes that he’s ready to make the step-up into the Test arena.
“I was always positive and I thought that whatever should happen, would happen. My thinking was that God put me in a place when the time is right. So I don’t believe the coaches would have picked me if they didn’t think I was ready to play Test rugby. And I also don’t believe that God would have put me here if I wasn’t ready,” he said.
One thing that Coetzee – just like the rest of his Lions teammates – prides himself on is the culture in the Lions group. And given the fact that Johan Ackermann’s team should be soaring on confidence following their impressive performances and results up until now, Coetzee believes that whatever positivity and confidence the Lions players in the Bok squad might have, they can “share” it with their new teammates.
“Whatever we learnt at the Lions, we can bring that positive vibe here and share it with the other guys. You’re never too old to learn.”
Besides from the obvious positive of being included in the Springbok group, Coetzee added that the welcoming he and other new guys received by the more experienced Boks and the coaching staff was great.
“Something that we’re placing emphasis on is the fact that everybody is equal. The guys are going to a lot of trouble to make you feel welcome and that’s something that really stood out for me. You can always learn from somebody else, even if the person is younger than you.”