I'll repay Ulster's faith: Marcell Coetzee agrees new three-year deal to stay at Kingspan Stadium
Ulster have been handed a huge boost as influential flanker Marcell Coetzee has agreed a new extension to his contract.
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The 27-year-old joined the province in 2016 on a three-year deal and, although his first two seasons were ravaged by injuries, his displays during the current campaign have been enough to convince the Ulster Rugby decisions makers to offer a new three-year contract lasting until 2022.
Coetzee made only four appearances before a knee injury ended his first season. He made a solitary outing in the 17/18 campaign before a recurrence of the knee issue caused further frustration.
This season has been much more satisfying for the 28-cap South African, making 17 appearances for Ulster and becoming one of the province's key players.
That's back up the statistics that show Coetzee leads Ulster’s charts for the highest number of carries, tackles and turnovers won this season.
"First of all, I want to thank the players, staff and supporters of Ulster Rugby for standing by my side over the past three seasons," he said. "It was a really tough mental and physical battle for me with the injuries, but I’m grateful for the support I had during that time and I’m determined to repay the faith shown in me.
“I can’t wait to see what the next three years holds for me and my wife personally, and for the club. We have a young, hungry squad that is clearly moving in the right direction under our coaching team. We have a lot of hard work to do, but I know that the entire organisation is focused on delivering success.”
It's a further boost for head coach Dan McFarland as he assembles his squad for next season, having already added Sam Carter to his panel with Matt Faddes widely expected to become the second new recruit of the summer.
McFarland believes the new deal will ensure Coetzee plays his best rugby at Ulster.
“Marcell has been phenomenal for us this season and it’s a massive boost for us that he has chosen to remain at the club, even with significant interest from other clubs," he said.
“He’s been through some difficult times since he arrived here and I’m delighted that he’s got a good run of games and performed at the level we know he’s capable of. At 27 years of age, we believe we are yet to witness some of his best rugby.
“Marcell provides real presence both on and off the field, and is an example of what determination and persistence can achieve. His influence and knowledge as an experienced international player has been great for our young players and he will continue to play a key role in helping to develop our indigenous forwards.”
Ulster return to action on Friday, February 15, with a PRO14 trip to Ospreys.
Belfast Telegraph Digital