Fullback Andries Coetzee is thrilled to be back home at the Lions and is excited for the start of the United Rugby Championship (URC) season as they host the Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 4:05pm).
Coetzee was a big part of the successful Lions team of a few years ago that reached three Super Rugby finals in a row and subsequently became a Springbok due to his good form.
He then left the team at the start of 2020, and has now returned after playing in last season’s URC competition with Benetton in Italy and he will be eager to make a big impact in his first start of the season.
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“It’s awesome being back. It’s a nice vibe in the camp and I am enjoying every moment. So every day is a pleasure and it’s really good to be back,” said Coetzee.
“Things are very different now between playing in Australia and New Zealand and playing in Europe is a completely different game. Luckily I have been in Europe for a year so I have been getting used to playing rugby over there.”
Last season the Lions struggled against the Bulls, especially in their home game where they were soundly beaten and they will want to put in a much better effort this season and try get an early win over their cross-Jukskei rivals.
“Well done to the Bulls for making the final last season. But it’s the first game of the season now, so everyone is going to be rusty and still trying to find their groove,” said Coetzee.
“But we know it’s going to be physical. We also know the Bulls can run the ball. But this early in the season it’s difficult to know what to expect.”
The Lions are also undergoing a rebuilding phase with a lot of youngsters in their ranks, so a positive result against the Bulls would go a long way in inspiring those players to reach their goals heading into the rest of the season.
“The team is currently in a rebuilding phase and are building from last season. All the teams will tell you that their target is to reach the quarterfinals and I know that is our target as well. So we can only take it day by day, week by week and go from there,” explained Coetzee.
“It’s very important to try and win the first game, especially since it is a home game and we are going on tour next week. So it is a big game for us and we know that we need to win our home games if we want to reach the quarterfinals.”