Coetzee relishes Crusaders challenge

Thu, 04 Apr 2013 14:43
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Sharks loose forward Marcell Coetzee is relishing his first encounter against the Crusaders at Kings Park on Friday.

Sharks loose forward Marcell Coetzee is relishing his first encounter against the Crusaders at Kings Park on Friday.

The 22-year-old loose forward was one of the finds of 2012 as he led the tackle stats and played in the Super Rugby Final in his debut season.  

His meteoric rise saw him being selected for the Springboks and he went on to play in all 12 of South Africa’s Tests.

He’s played against the All Blacks in New Zealand, the Wallabies in Australia and England at Twickenham, and on Friday he’ll get to test himself against the most decorated franchise in Super Rugby history for the first time.

“I’m really looking forward to it, it’s a great challenge for the team and for me personally,” Coetzee said at a press conference.

“The coach asked how many of us had played and beaten them and not a lot of guys in the room raised their hands.

“But for me personally, it’s a great challenge, the Crusaders are respected world-wide and having the opportunity to compete against them will be awesome.”

The young loose forward is well aware of the history between the teams and the fact that the Sharks have only managed to beat the Crusaders twice in 15 years, their most recent victory dating back to 2007.   

Coetzee said the Sharks will have to match the physicality of the seven-time champions, who outmuscled the Stormers last weekend to leave Cape Town with four log points.
 
“We have to step up physicality. The Crusaders are a championship side, even without their stars they managed to pull off a win against the Stormers with a great team performance. Physicality is definitely a part of their game and we have to front up on the day,” he said.

The Sharks - along with the Brumbies - boast the second best defensive record in the competition in terms of tries conceded (8) and Coetzee said it will be important to deliver a psychological blow to the inventive Crusaders with their defence.
 
“Part of the Crusaders’ great strengths is their offloading ability, their skill levels are very high, so defensively, we need to adjust to that. Mentally, we need to take it to them, not allow them to get into the game and close them down where we can,” he said.

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