Uncapped flank Marcell Coetzee says he will give his best for South Africa in the forthcoming series against England starting next week after he received a call-up to the Springbok squad.
The Sharks forward was one of nine uncapped players named in Heyneke Meyer’s 32-man squad on Saturday night, with Heinrich Brussouw’s exclusion seen as one of the biggest surprises.
The squad gathered in Durban on Sunday ahead of the three-match series that begins at Kings Park next Saturday.
“You don’t want to think about it like that (being picked ahead of Brussouw), but Heinrich’s a very respected player,” Coetzee said.
“What he’s done for South African rugby is enormous. I respect him a lot and I’m sure he’ll come back fighting.
“It (my selection) shows the belief the coach has in me and hopefully I won’t disappoint.”
The 21-year-old said the Springboks expected the tourists to come out hard against them and insisted they would not take them lightly.
“England bring a real physical presence which you could see when they played the Barbarians last week,” he said.
“They’re a new, young squad with lots of enthusiasm. We clearly won’t underestimate them.
“They like to play with their forwards and they like to take the ball up and attack the gain-line.
“Their backline seems to have a new dimension to it with a bit of flair. We will do our studies on them but we would focus on ourselves rather than the opposition.”
Coetzee admitted he was still coming to terms with his inclusion in the squad after an outstanding Super Rugby campaign in which he has started 12 out of 13 matches for the Sharks this season.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it will get there,” he said.
“I’m just humbled to be in the team and will give my best.”
Another player to have earned himself a first call-up was Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth.
He admitted that hearing the news of his inclusion, which also came on the same night his Stormers side beat the Bulls in Pretoria, brought a tear to his eye.
“I was so ecstatic, there was a tear rolling down. It was by far the best day of my life,” said Etzebeth.
The 20-year-old said he was unsure what challenges he would face playing at the highest level of the game, but would be prepared if he was thrown into the mix against the English.
“I don’t know what to expect,” he said.
“It’s going to be physical, it’s going to be hard and tough. That’s test match rugby and hopefully I get my chance.
“They’ve been quite good this year. I saw them playing against the Barbarians last weekend when they put up quite a good performance. It will be a tough series.” – Sapa