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Ulster's new man Marcell Coetzee aims to drive side forward

By Michael Sadlier

After 10 months away from the game, Marcell Coetzee wasn't taking any chances that he might slip under the radar.

Those bright green boots saw to that, but Coetzee hardly needed the high visibility footwear to illuminate his first sighting in an Ulster shirt.

Nearly a year of rehab and the accompanying build-up of frustration since last April's ACL injury playing for the Sharks was taken out on Edinburgh on Friday evening.

The 28-times capped Springbok looked ravenous for work with his destructive ball carrying giving Ulster an edge to their game.

Naturally, after so long away, he couldn't go the distance but nearly an hour's workout was just fine.

"Ten months can stack some frustration and aggression in you and you have to take it and feed off any positives you can get," said the South African.

"And I think the positive is just getting through my debut game injury-free."

Winning also helped to make it a night to remember as Les Kiss' squad - who still have a game in hand - got their PRO12 campaign going again and with what could also be a crucial try bonus.

"It was a big and emotional time for me personally," the dynamic back-rower said of his debut.

"Just to get back playing the game I love, to be able to do it here at Kingspan and with the crowd so loud was great.

"The win was just the cherry on top for me."

The sight of Coetzee taking his place in the same side as Ulster's other marquee signing, a certain Charles Piutau, also lifted the mood as both clearly showed their star quality.

If Kiss can keep both fit - Piutau hobbled off with a lower leg injury which, it is hoped, will not prevent him from playing Glasgow at the Kingspan on Saturday - then Ulster could well get the run of wins they require.

"Our biggest goal at Ulster is to let the forwards combine with the backline," is how Coetzee reacted to playing alongside All Black Piutau.

"The big thing is we have to find that synergy amongst each other."

But the fact that Ulster dropped off in the second half against Edinburgh, and managed to leak three tries in the game, did come up for discussion.

"The first half (when Ulster got their four tries) we can be proud of, but we must make it an 80-minute game," he said.

"And we must work on that building for Glasgow."


Munster 14 12 0 2 367 181 55

Ospreys 14 110 3 413 193 54

Leinster 14 11 0 3 413 239 51

Scarlets 14 10 0 4 288 230 44

Glasgow 14 8 0 6 326 280 41

Ulster 13 8 0 5 259 209 38

Cardiff 14 6 0 8 284 327 28

Connacht13 5 0 8 218 271 25

Edinburgh 14 4 0 10 276 314 20

Dragons 14 4 0 10 229 327 19

Treviso 14 2 0 12 198 455 11

Zebre 12 1 0 11 165 410 9

Belfast Telegraph


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