JOHANNESBURG – Ulster loose forward Marcell Coetzee has announced his return to fitness with a barnstorming start to the PRO14 season. After three rounds of Pro14 action, the Opta Sports analytics company have identified some of the top performing players, with Coetzee featuring prominently alongside two other South Africans.
Coetzee sits at the top of the statistical rankings when it comes to carries made (22). Tienie Burger of the Kings has made the most tackles (25), while the Cheetahs' Malcolm Jaer has executed the most clean breaks. Last weekend, Coetzee received the Man of the Match award after producing another standout performance for Ulster as they comfortably defeated the Kings 28-7 in Port Elizabeth.
The 27-year-old has endured a couple of injury-plagued seasons, which have blighted his promising career since joining Ulster from the Sharks in 2016. The industrious flanker last played for the Boks back in 2015. Coetzee, who has 28 Test caps to his name, said it was wonderful to be back in action once again.
"You appreciate the little things in life again, being in the mix with the squad, having a laugh and also getting the chance to play in my home country," he said. "That’s what my injury taught me, to cherish every moment and make the most of every opportunity you get on the pitch. The coaches told me (in pre-season) they’d want to ease up my minutes and target the Kings as a full 80. Luckily I got through it with no problems, so happy days."
Coetzee's performances may well have caught the eye of Bok coach Rassie Erasmus, who could well look to draft the former Sharks star into the national ranks again should he continue to impress for Ulster.
Ulster started the Pro14 season with a 15-13 win over Scarletts and went on to beat Edinburgh 30-29 in the second round before last week's victory over the Kings. The Irish side, who currently top Conference B,visit the Cheetahs on Friday (Kick-off at 7:15pm)
African News Agency (ANA)