Why Marcell Coetzee is so grateful to be in the Springbok camp
Springboks loose forward Marcell Coetzee contemplated retirement when persistent injuries began to take a physical and emotional toll on him while at his Irish club Ulster.
Coetzee‚ who will add to the 28 Springboks caps he's amassed since 2015‚ will start in the farewell Test against Argentina at Loftus on Saturday but a few months ago he didn’t see himself wearing the famous green and gold ever again.
“It has been a great journey of recovery for me.
"A year ago I was thinking about retirement at one stage with the continuous injuries that I suffered‚” said Coetzee.
“If you asked me a year ago if I will be sitting here with you with about a month to go to the World Cup‚ I would have said 'no ways.'
"But being back in the mix with the Boks is about enjoying every moment.
"The other important thing for me is to continue learning because you miss out on special moments and the professionalism of the players.”
Coetzee has been given the opportunity to impress against the Pumas but he admitted that making the final squad for the World Cup is out of his hands.
“I am just thankful for the opportunity of getting out there with the boys but at the end of the day it is out of your hands‚" he said.
"All you can do is to produce the best on the pitch and it is up to the coach or the selectors to decide if it is good enough or not.”
Asked how he kept the faith during the trying times of his rehabilitation from the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)‚ Coetzee said it was the dream of playing for the national team again that kept him going.
“There is one thing you can’t control and that is injuries‚" he said.
"The rehabilitation stages were vital but this is a contact sport.
"Sometimes people get injured without any contact and it is just how it goes.
"The biggest emphasis with the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was rehabilitation.
"It needs a lot of patience and hard work.
"The dream of playing for the Springboks got me getting up every day.
"I was chasing a dream that was bigger than myself‚ my faith played a huge role in this and all of my family and friends.”
Coetzee added that the spirit in the Boks camp is exceptional and contributed to winning the Rugby Championship for the first time in a decade.
“It’s phenomenal to be part of this team‚ you can see that the culture that has been created and we are reaping the benefits in terms of results‚" he said.
"Guys get along very well whether you are playing locally or abroad because we have the same dream.
"The strength of this team is the depth.
"The team that is playing this weekend is still a good team with great players all around even though there have been a number of changes.”