PRO14

Bok contender Coetzee continues to be a dominant force in PRO14

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Marcell Coetzee in action for Ulster.
Marcell Coetzee in action for Ulster.
Athena Pictures/Getty Images

There is a lot of doubt over South Africa's readiness for possible participation in the Rugby Championship but one player who would definitely be ready to front any Springbok challenge if he was required is Ulster No 8 Marcell Coetzee.

The former Sharks loose-forward, who has been linked to a possible return home with the Bulls as the likely destination, continues to shine in the PRO14 and was a star performer for Ulster in their impressive 24-12 away win over the Ospreys in Swansea over the weekend.

The man credited with the most carries in PRO14 last year was described as "one of the best loose-forwards in the northern hemisphere" in reports after the game and on the evidence of his commanding performance that is no exaggeration.

A decision on South Africa's participation in the Rugby Championship is expected on Monday but even if the Boks don't go to Australia, Coetzee must get a strong look-in for next year's British & Irish Lions series.

That will partially make up for the bad luck he has had which prevented him from being part of the last two Springbok World Cup campaigns.

Coetzee scored the second Ulster's two tries, was a relentless force around the field throughout and his assist played a part in the first try scored by fullback Jacob Stockdale.

The Ulster back-rower appeared to make several metres every time he had ball in hand and played a big part in getting his team on the front foot.

Talking of South African born No 8s playing in the PRO14, there was another to the fore in the significant win that Johan van Graan's Munster scored over the 2019/2020 beaten finalists Edinburgh.

Unfortunately for Springbok fans, former Riversdale schoolboy CJ Stander is now well established with Ireland and never got to play for the land of his birth, but his influence in his adopted country continues to be immense.

Stander capped a great all-round game by finishing off a typical forwards try in the 78th minute which brought Munster level with Edinburgh at 23-all, with Ben Healy, who had missed an important kick earlier, kicking the match winning conversion to give the Irish province a morale-boosting 25-23 win and thus retaining their unbeaten record after two rounds.

Another South African overseas international, Scotland prop WP Nel, crashed over for one of Edinburgh's tries and former Lions and Bulls flyhalf Jaco van der Walt continued his points accumulation with a good kicking display from the tee.

It was a home game for Munster so Van Graan won't get too excited about it and he might be concerned that his men took 77 minutes to get over the line when they dominated so much of the play from later in the first half onwards.

However, he's in a better position than the Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill who watched his team slip to their fifth successive defeat in all competitions, a slide that started with their last gasp defeat to Ulster in the 2019/2020 semi-final at Murrayfield.

Their fellow Scotland team, Glasgow Warriors, who are also laden with South Africans, did get off the mark in the current edition of the competition when they scored an impressive 20-7 win over Scarlets at Scotstoun, with former Western Province and SA under-20 prop Ollie Kebble very much to the fore in their forward effort.

Weekend PRO14 results:

Dragons 26 Zebre 18

Ospreys 12 Ulster 24

Benetton 25 Leinster 37

Munster 25 Edinburgh 23

Cardiff Blues 29 Connacht 7

Glasgow Warriors 20 Scarlets 7

- PRO14 media

       
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