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Impi Interviews – Part 2: Marcel Coetzee

Written by Udo Lütge (pastorshark)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 10 Apr 2015 at 09:44
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

On Monday the UKZN Impi did their bit to lift the gloom that fell on the rugby-loving folk of the original “Currie Cup Country” when they showed passion and determination in their Varsity Shield Final against Wits. After two losses to the unbeaten Wits side earlier in the campaign, the first of which was a 56-13 hammering in Pietermaritzburg, the Impi showed a fierce determination and the continued improvement that has characterised their campaign to register a brilliant 29-24 victory.

I am in the fortunate position that I know several of the Impi squad members and coaches. Particularly Ryan Strudwick, Marcel Coetzee and Graham Koch have crossed my path in far more than just rugby, having spent much of their lives in our little Midlands area of Wartburg and surrounds. Soooo, I knocked on a few doors and got some interviews lined up. After the contribution from Benedict in his interview with squad captain Lwazi Ngcungama, this is part 2 of the Impi Interviews and it focuses on a chat with the young 19-year old outside centre Marcel Coetzee.

Pastorshark (PS):   Hallo Marcel! Gut gespielt man. Ich gratuliere! (That’s German for: Hi Marcel! Well played man. Congrats!) Congrats on winning the Varsity Shield – great result! How was the game for you? And the experience of winning it?

Marcel Coetzee (MC): Thank you. For me the game wasn’t one of the most exciting games of rugby I’ve played in just from a “game play” point of view. We played a more conservative forward orientated and territorial game and didn’t spread the ball wide. But it was a final and that is what finals are usually like. But having said that, it was very exciting being in a final, as I’ve never played in a final before…and to win it after just one year out of school was a real privilege. Also making history, being part of the first Impi side to win the Shield is an awesome achievement.

PS:     What have you enjoyed most about our time with the Impi squad?

MC:     What I’ve enjoyed most is the passion and love for rugby! And also meeting new people – that is just an awesome thing about sport: always meeting new people and making new friends.

PS:      What do you think the key was to your improvement as a team over the course of the season, particularly the improvement against Wits over the course of the three games you played against them?

MC:      The key to our improvement I think was the way we gelled as a team and respected each other, even though we came from such different backgrounds. At the beginning of the season the Sharks guys and UKZN guys divided into separate groups, but as the campaign went on we started mixing and gelling together as one. The different cultures of Afrikaans and Zulu, English and even Shona and the odd German didn’t have any negative effects on the way we gelled as a team. I also believe the key to beating Wits in the final boiled down to hunger and being more desperate!

PS:     What were your personal highlights and most enjoyable moments during the tournament?

MC:    My personal highlight was scoring a hattrick against TUT at home and getting the “Player that Rocks” award. Obviously the excitement of winning the final was also a highlight!

PS:      Who do you think the key players were for your squad?

MC:    Everyone was a key player in this Impi squad…and not just the starting XV, but the whole squad! It was a massive squad effort – we were hit with many injuries throughout the season, including myself. We were actually only able to put out a full strength side once and that was in the final. So credit must go to the entire squad.

PS:   Tell us about your coach, Ryan Strudwick, and the rest of the coaching team – what impact did they have on you and your group?

MC:     Well, Ryan has been my coach for five seasons now – three years at Maritzburg College and last year for the u19 Sharks side – so we know each other very well. That helped me a lot and he was the one who actually encouraged me to study at UKZN and play for the Impi. He is also going to be the u21 Sharks coach later on in the season, as well as the Vodacom Cup (which started three weeks ago). All of that encouraged me to try and play well. He is very experienced, having been a successful rugby player back in his playing days. He uses that experience very well when he coaches. He was a very good leader, having captained London Irish for several years. He is very good at communicating personally with the players and he is always fair and honest.

PS:   What lies ahead for Marcel Coetzee for the rest of this season…and what are your longer term dreams and ambitions?

MC:      For the rest of this year I hope to play for the u21 Sharks side during the Currie Cup…and perhaps a few games for the Vodacom Cup side. My main goal, though, is to play in the u21 side, as I am still only 19. My long term goal is to be offered an extended contract at the Sharks at the end of my current two year contract, which ends at the end of 2016. When I achieve that, I hope to play in the Super Rugby Competition and the Currie Cup.

PS:        I couldn’t resist this question: Have you met the other Marcell Coetzee? What are your impressions of him? Any chance that we’ll see the two of you run out in Sharks jerseys together?

MC:     Yes, I have met him and I see him now and then at the Stadium. He seems like a very humble and friendly guy – I’ve also heard that from many people at the Sharks. Obviously I would love to be playing next to him one day!

Thanks again for your time, Marcel. Great to chat to you! Well done on winning the Varsity Shield and good luck for the road ahead. We all hope there will be many more hattricks for you, a lot of enjoyment and the fulfilment of your dreams!

That’s it for Impi Interviews – Part 2. Part 3 with Ryan Strudwick coming up…

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