Ex-Ulster star Marcel Coetzee covets Rainbow Cup glory
Former Ulster back row Marcell Coetzee will lead South African side the Bull against Benetton in Saturday evening’s Rainbow Cup final.
Coetzee’s robust all-action performances coupled with the ability to score tries made him a firm fan’s favourite during his five years at the Kingspan Stadium, but the relationship turned sour when the Bulls bought the 30-times capped Springbok out of the final year of his contract in Belfast.
Coetzee scored a try in his last appearance for Ulster against Leinster in March but picked up a hamstring injury in that game and was officially released to the Pretoria-based franchise at the end of April.
He was keen to return home to try and force his way into the Springboks team to face the British and Irish Lions this summer but he was originally left out of Rassie Erasmus 46 man squad.
However, with his Bulls team-mate Duane Vermeulen ruled out due to injury the door is ajar for the former Ulster backrow.
A strong performance against Benetton this evening could seal Coetzee’s Springbok return and a clash with his former Ulster captain Ian Henderson later in the summer.
“The Lions come to South Africa every 12 years so whether it’s in a Springbok jersey or a Blue Bulls jersey you just want the opportunity,” said Coetzee.
“Since I came to the Bulls it’s going to be a phenomenal challenge and experience if the opportunity presents itself.
“I think every South African player at the moment has aspirations to play against the Lions.
“The tradition behind it and watching clips of the ’09 series - it is just incredible how physical the rugby was and how people bought into the culture with that.”
Despite not winning any silverware on the pitch with Ulster, Coetzee has fond memories of his time in Northern Ireland.
“It was an incredible experience for me and my wife over the course of five years,” he said.
“Rugby-wise, off the field-wise, it was an opportunity to see the world and expand your horizons and rugby-wise I enjoyed it thoroughly.”