Marcel Coetzee last season for Sharks in 2016 Super Rugby Season

On the day that Marcell Coetzee captained the Sharks for the first time, against Toulouse this week , it was also confirmed that the 2016 Super Rugby season could be his last for the Durban franchise.

Ulster have bagged the services of the Springbok flanker and he will join the Northern Ireland team on a three-year deal later this year.

The 24-year-old was controversially left out of the Springbok World Cup squad last year and that might have played a role in his decision to quit South African rugby at such a young age.

Coetzee, a product of Durban’s Bluff area and Port Natal High School, fought his way into the Sharks side as a teenager having been ignored at Craven Week level and having paid his own way at the Sharks Academy.

Capped 28 times for the Boks, Coetzee is the latest youngster to succumb to the lure of the British pound. For instance, Cheetahs and Springbok flyhalf/fullback Johan Goosen quit South Africa at just 22.

The South African Rugby Union late last year announced that they were making funds available to keep younger players in South Africa to stop a worrying trend but the inescapable bottom line is that the crumbling Rand is making it tougher than ever to keep top players in the country, particularly if they feel their national aspirations are limited.

Former Sharks and Springbok No 8 Ryan Kankowski is also reported to be in talks with the Belfast team, although Kankowski is first going to try his luck at making the SA Sevens team for the Olympics.

Ulster has been a good home for former Sharks scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, who has become an institution at Kingspan Park, while a former Sharks captain, lock Johann Mulller, was a popular figure at the same team over a three-year-period, as was former Sharks and Springbok tighthead prop BJ Botha.

Ulster’s Director of Rugby, Les Kiss, the Australian who served as Springbok defence coach under then Bok coach Harry Viljoen, said it all for both the Sharks and Ulster regarding the significance of the loss/gain of Coetzee: “At 24, we believe his best years are still ahead of him, which is hugely exciting and shows the commitment Marcell has given to Ulster Rugby. I know that this was an incredibly difficult decision for him to make with the attachment he has to the Sharks, not to mention the high level of interest from other clubs,” Kiss said.

“Having spent plenty of time talking with Marcell, it is also evident that he has all the key character attributes of many South Africans that have gone before him at Ulster to fit into our culture seamlessly, and have a massively positive impact on our environment.

“We are all very excited about what he will bring to Ulster in the coming seasons and we wish him success this season with the Sharks.”

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