Coet­zee’s Spring­bok dreams are be­com­ing a re­al­ity

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - WYNONA LOUW

LIONS full­back An­dries Coet­zee says that his “big dream” of get­ting a Spring­bok call-up is “start­ing to feel like a re­al­ity now”.

And af­ter the sea­son that Coet­zee has en­joyed with the Lions, one would think that the prospect of him step­ping into the Bok set-up should have seemed like a re­al­ity from the very start of his Su­per Rugby sea­son.

Coet­zee has been in­stru­men­tal for the Lions this sea­son with his re­li­able boot and his hard work that al­ways seems to be done while oth­ers shine, but this sea­son he has im­pressed by not only do­ing what he’s been do­ing all along, but also by pro­duc­ing per­for­mances that will make sure that he won’t have to be de­scribed as an “un­sung hero” again.

Still, he is by no means flashy, but very, very re­li­able and, maybe more im­por­tantly – con­sis­tent.

Usu­ally when you use the words “re­li­able” to de­scribe a player the first thing that comes to mind is “bor­ing”, or a player who does only the ba­sics and who does them well. And that is not Coet­zee. The ver­sa­tile back knows how to beat de­fend­ers and how to break through de­fences, and he knows a thing or two about run­ning stun­ning lines. As far as his kick­ing goes … well, that speaks for it­self.

And al­though the on-form full­back says that his in­clu­sion seems like more of a re­al­ity now, he says it still hasn’t re­ally sunk in that he could get a chance to prove him­self in a jersey other than Lions’ – de­spite what he’s done this sea­son.

Coet­zee is one of eight un­capped play­ers in Al­lis­ter Coet­zee’s 31-man squad for the three­Test se­ries against France this month – an achieve­ment that the 27-year-old de­scribed as an “emo­tional” ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Last week it still felt like a dream and I told my par­ents that it would prob­a­bly start sink­ing in this week. The nerves were there of course, but as soon as you get onto the field you feel at home. It’s a big dream, but it’s start­ing to feel like re­al­ity now,” Coet­zee said.

Coet­zee was in­cluded in the sec­ond Spring­bok train­ing camp in Stel­len­bosch and the third one in Jo­han­nes­burg, and de­spite be­ing in­cluded in two Bok camps, the for­mer Sharks player says that he never re­ally ex­pected the Bok call-up for the Test se­ries.

“It’s some­thing that you al­ways work to­wards, it’s al­ways a dream. And when I was in­cluded in the sec­ond train­ing group … you know, when some­thing like that hap­pens you re­alise that you’re ac­tu­ally so close. It was very emo­tional (his in­clu­sion in Bok squad), but you never ex­pect it be­cause you never want to ex­pect some­thing that might not hap­pen,” he said.

And now that it has hap­pened, Coet­zee be­lieves that he’s ready to make the step-up into the Test arena.

“I was al­ways pos­i­tive and I thought that whatever should hap­pen, would hap­pen. My think­ing was that God put me in a place when the time is right. So I don’t be­lieve the coaches would have picked me if they didn’t think I was ready to play Test rugby. And I also don’t be­lieve that God would have put me here if I wasn’t ready,” he said.

One thing that Coet­zee – just like the rest of his Lions team­mates – prides him­self on is the cul­ture in the Lions group. And given the fact that Jo­han Ack­er­mann’s team should be soar­ing on con­fi­dence fol­low­ing their im­pres­sive per­for­mances and re­sults up un­til now, Coet­zee be­lieves that whatever pos­i­tiv­ity and con­fi­dence the Lions play­ers in the Bok squad might have, they can “share” it with their new team­mates.

“Whatever we learnt at the Lions, we can bring that pos­i­tive vibe here and share it with the other guys. You’re never too old to learn.”

Be­sides from the ob­vi­ous pos­i­tive of be­ing in­cluded in the Spring­bok group, Coet­zee added that the wel­com­ing he and other new guys re­ceived by the more ex­pe­ri­enced Boks and the coach­ing staff was great.

“Some­thing that we’re plac­ing em­pha­sis on is the fact that ev­ery­body is equal. The guys are go­ing to a lot of trou­ble to make you feel wel­come and that’s some­thing that re­ally stood out for me. You can al­ways learn from some­body else, even if the per­son is younger than you.”

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