Coetzee’s Sharks career over
Marcell Coetzee’s Sharks career is over — at least for three years — following Saturday’s devastating injury during the Super Rugby derby against the Lions at King’s Park.
Coetzee, who has been the Sharks’ form player of the season, was stretchered off during the Sharks’ 24-9 Super Rugby defeat by the Lions.
A terse Sharks statement yesterday confirmed the seriousness of the injury: "Marcell Coetzee has an ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] tear and will be out for nine months. He is to undergo an operation this week."
Coetzee was in his last season for the Sharks before joining his former Sharks team-mate, Bok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, at Ulster on a three-year contract.
The Sharks, who lost senior internationals in the Du Plessis brothers, Frans Steyn, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts at the end of last season, now have two young Springboks, Pat Lambie and Coetzee, on the sidelines. Lambie is expected to join the Sharks squad after the three-match tour of New Zealand.
The injury is a massive setback for the 112 kg Coetzee. He was surprisingly overlooked by coach Heyneke Meyer for the Rugby World Cup last year, but was challenging strongly for a place in the Springbok squad to face Ireland in a three-Test series in June.
It will also mean that Ulster supporters will have to wait until the end of the year to see their new signing in action.
The 24-year-old, who has 28 caps for the Springboks, has already made 68 appearances for the Sharks since making his Super Rugby debut as a 19-year-old in 2011. And, if there is a silver lining anywhere, it is that the robust flank, who spent the South African summer playing club rugby in Japan, will be forced to take a much-needed break from the game.
While Coetzee’s omission from the Springbok World Cup squad is certain to have influenced his decision to leave Durban for Belfast, he still regards King’s Park as his home and is determined to resume his career with the Sharks after his three-year stint in Europe.
Sharks coach Gary Gold has added veteran flank Jean Deysel to the tour party in place of Coetzee, but he has backrow options with Keegan Daniel and Philip van der Walt, who missed the Lions game because of a neck injury, also in the squad.
The Sharks open their New Zealand tour against the Blues in Auckland on Saturday. Gold, who has been consistent in his selection and made very few changes for the first six games of the competition, said that he was looking to rotate players during the trip.
It will come as no surprise if he opts to start with Lourens Adriaanse at tighthead in place of Coenie Oosthuizen, who struggled against the Lions. Captain and loosehead Beast Mtawarira is also likely to be rested at some stage of the tour and the 26-year-old Dale Chadwick and talented youngster Thomas du Toit provide cover. Back from a two-year drug ban is former Springbok hooker Chili-boy Ralapelle and he could return to action off the bench on Saturday.
Gold may consider a change at flyhalf. Joe Pietersen, usually a model of consistency, made a series of crucial errors against the Lions and young Garth April, playing off the bench, brought some energy to the backline in the final quarter. The match at Eden Park on Saturday kicks off at 9.35 am.
But on Tuesday the focus is on the announcement of the new Springbok coach. Allister Coetzee has all but been confirmed as Meyer’s successor, but his coaching staff will contain surprises.