Durban - While many young players will readily admit that they will play anywhere their coach selects them, just to get the opportunity to play, at some stage in their careers they know they need to settle on one specific position.
Being a versatile player has its strengths.
It means always finding a place for that player, knowing he can slot into various positions. But therein lies the rub: he becomes a jack of all trades, master of none, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.
While it could hardly be said of Marcell Coetzee that he is not a master, he acknowledges the value and importance for him to find his niche and then become a master.
"For me personally, it’s been beneficial to focus on one specific position," he explains.
"In the past I’ve played at six, seven and even eight.
"So it’s just been good to specialise in one position and I really want to settle at six; hopefully the hard work pays off.
"I’ve worked a lot with Richie Gray (at the Boks), and I love the breakdown now. Going forward I want to thrive as a fetcher.
"I have to commend Richie as well as Brad (Macleod-Henderson) here at the Sharks, they put a lot of emphasis on the breakdown. I’ve worked closely with them and learnt how to read the situation at the breakdown.
"It’s been a two-year process, and hopefully all the hard work has paid off."
Nominated for SA Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, it’s hard to believe this veteran of 78 Sharks games and another 26 Springbok appearances is only 24 years of age and could no be considered one of the more experienced players in the team.
"There is a good balance between youth and experience here at the Sharks, and I think I’m somewhere in the middle," he says with a self-deprecating laugh.
"I’m always open to help anyone, but I’m also keen to keep learning myself.
"You can always keep improving your game and I’d just like to continue contributing as much as I can."
Making a significant contribution this season is not only his desire, but that of his team-mates who have put in an incredible amount of work during their pre-season to be is fit, fast and accurate as possible.
It’s been a long, hard period, but the time to perform what they’ve been training to do is here.
"It’s been a long wait for this season’s Super Rugby competition to start and the guys are really looking forward to this weekend.
"We know what to expect from the Cheetahs, they always play a high-intensity game.
"The guys have been working very hard and will be up for it.
"Our confidence is high after the Toulon game, it was a big physical test and we just wanted to put our structures in place. We ticked the boxes we wanted to.
"I think we’ve got the balance right between the work we’ve done in training, as well as the recovery time we’re getting.
"So I feel like we’ll be fresh and ready for this weekend.”
He warns that despite losing some influential players at the end of last year, the Cheetahs can always be expected to throw everything at their opponents, and he is anticipating a very tough battle.
"They have suffered some big losses, but there are new guys who are there like Willie Britz and Danie Mienie.
"I’m sure others will step up and prove a point, there are no weak teams in Super Rugby."
15. SP Marais, 14. S’bura Sithole, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Heimar Williams, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Tera Mtembu, 7. Renaldo Bothma, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Mouritz Botha, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Matt Stevens, 19. Marco Wentzel,20. Jean Deysel, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Fred Zeilinga, 23. Odwa Ndungane
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Petersen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Jean Cook, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Minnie.
Substitutes: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Boom Prinsloo, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Cornal Hendricks