Marcell Coetzee commits to SA rugby despite Bok snub

Marcell Coetzee has committed himself to SA Rugby by signing a new deal with the Bulls. Photo: Willem Loock/BackpagePix

Marcell Coetzee has committed himself to SA Rugby by signing a new deal with the Bulls. Photo: Willem Loock/BackpagePix

Published Nov 2, 2022


Cape Town – Considering his form over the last 12 months, it is hard to understand why Marcell Coetzee is not at least in the SA A squad – let alone the Springbok group – for the end-of-year tour to Europe.

The 31-year-old has been outstanding in leading the Bulls to the United Rugby Championship final last season, while they also won the second 2021 Currie Cup on his watch.

Yet the former Sharks star has missed out on being part of the 52-strong touring party to Ireland, France, Italy and England. The number was initially 54, but Marco van Staden and Sbu Nkosi have now been withdrawn after they were injured in last week’s URC win over the Sharks.

The fact remains, though, that despite having 31 Test caps and being able to play at No 6, 7 and 8, Coetzee was left out – with all of Van Staden, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Evan Roos, Kwagga Smith, Jasper Wiese, Deon Fourie and Franco Mostert picked ahead of him in the Bok Test squad.

Then in the SA A group, the loose forwards are Phepsi Buthelezi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

That is why Coetzee now finds himself joining Japanese club Kobe Steelers, after he was granted a sabbatical by the Bulls, which will see him return to Pretoria in either late April or early May.

And even though he was snubbed by the Bok management once again, Coetzee has displayed his commitment to South African rugby by signing a contract extension this week that will keep him at Loftus Versfeld until 2027.

“It was a no-brainer… I really love playing for the Bulls. I believe we are on a path towards something special, and one wants to be part of a team that is destined to hit their heights pretty soon. The side has a lovely bunch of guys,” he said in a statement.

“The weekend (Sharks game) may have been my last match for the Bulls, but I will return at the back end of April come 2023. I missed my country a lot during my five years at Ulster, so I know I am coming back after this short journey.

“It is an honour to play for this team. I am extremely happy with where I am with the Bulls, the staff and the team spirit we have built – that is where my heart is.

“Me and my wife have definitely found a home in Pretoria, and we cannot wait to see how further the team develops, and how I can help in driving and contributing to its success in the future.”