DURBAN – Yet another fascinating thread to this evening’s Rainbow Cup finale between the Sharks and the Bulls at Jonsson Kings Park is the return of the former local hero, Marcell Coetzee, who is captaining the visitors in the absence of Duane Vermeulen.
The 30-year-old Coetzee was a notable absentee from the Springbok squad announced last week, and he was always going to want to make a statement this week against the Sharks, but now even more so because Vermeulen is injured and not looking good for the series against the British and Irish Lions.
Coetzee left the Sharks in 2016 for a highly successful career overseas, and Sharks coach Sean Everitt remembers him fondly but will hope he doesn’t play too much of a blinder.
“I think Marcell still holds a special place in the hearts of Sharks supporters, and they will be quite sore,” Everitt said. “I coached Marcell (at age-group level at the Sharks) when he came out of the little school, Port Natal.
“It will be quite weird to see him playing for the Bulls. He was magnificent last Friday night (against the Stormers), and he’s been really good for Ulster over the last few years
“What’s good about Marcell playing against us is that we’ve got guys who want to prove themselves against the best, and he’s undoubtedly been one of the best loose-forwards in Europe over the last few years.”
“I’m sure he wants to put his hand up so that if they do replace Duane, he has that opportunity to wear the Springbok jersey against the Lions.”
Everitt said that if his team is to achieve the mammoth task of winning with a bonus point, to advance to the Rainbow Cup final against Benetton in Italy next weekend, discipline would be key, especially because the Bulls are such a powerful mauling team, and penalties kicked to the corner invariably result in tries.
“Given where the Bulls’ strengths are, we’ve talked a lot about discipline,” Everitt said. “We gave away five scrum penalties and four maul penalties in our last game against the Bulls. We know they have a good maul so we know we can’t be undisciplined, as if they get a chance to get into the right areas they are going to punish us. We are going to have to be disciplined to be competitive.
“We beat them in a Currie Cup league game here last season and in that game we started well and kept up the momentum for 80 minutes. We will be looking to replicate that. We played for just 50 minutes in our most recent game against them at Loftus and it cost us. They are very good in the last 20 minutes, as they showed last week against the
Stormers and the week before that against us.”
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Anthony Volmink, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Khwezi Mona.
15 Dawid Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Ruan Nortjie, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Subs: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Muller Uys, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Gio Aplon, 24 Robert Hunt, 25 Jan Uys, 26 Dawid Kellerman, 27 Richard Kriel.