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Ken Borland


Coetzee has been through the mill as he seeks 1st win over Leinster

Posted on July 20, 2022 by Ken

Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee has been put through the mill a few times by Leinster in his marvellous career and he is still seeking his first victory against the Irish giants.

And to do that with his team on Friday night in Dublin in the United Rugby Championship semi-finals would cap what Coetzee says has been a magnificent year with his new club.

Given how integral the 31-year-old has become to the Bulls set-up, it is hard to believe the former Sharks and Ulster star has only been at Loftus Versfeld since April 2021.

Playing for Ulster for five years from 2016 has given Coetzee a first-hand view of Leinster’s rise to the top of European rugby, and the Springbok ruefully admitted that although his Irish club were the Dublin side’s archrivals, he never managed to be on the winning side against them.

“The key to Leinster’s strength is the amount of players they have representing their country and their strong leadership. And they have continuously grown,” Coetzee said.

“I have personally never won against them, which just shows the success of their system. It’s going to be a tough battle and Leinster are a side you always measure yourself against.

“They are the juggernauts of European rugby and we are all trying to catch-up to them. But our system at the Bulls is also pretty good, which is why we are in playoffs for both the URC and the Currie Cup.

“I call it a system, but basically the Bulls are a family. In fact, sometimes you see your team-mates and coaches more than you see your wife! But it has been one of the best years of my life,” Coetzee said.

Apart from being the king of offloads in the URC, Coetzee has also been a tower of strength in terms of carrying and defending, but it is his smuts-work at the breakdown that could be most valuable against Leinster.

“Leinster have great poachers and not just Josh van der Flier. Our whole pack has the mindset that we have to stop them because it’s a key area. Both teams like to play with tempo,” Coetzee said.

Although coach Jake White specifically mentioned the height of his back three, with Canan Moodie retaining his place at fullback and Kurt-Lee Arendse on the bench, as being important because he expects a lot of kicking from Leinster, he also singled out their tempo of play as being a key strength.

“Leinster can really punish you, they do the little things really well and they play at such a high tempo. They have incredible talent around the park, so all 23 of our players have to play well.

“Generally Leinster don’t have anything to target, they are well-balanced with no real weaknesses. But all our players believe we have a chance,” White said.

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