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Marcell Coetzee has wasted no time making a big impact in Japan and has already been asked to take over the captaincy of his Japanese team the Kobelco Kobe Steelers in only his fourth match there.

The former Vodacom Bulls captain is on a six-month contract with the Steelers after which he plans to return to Loftus Versfeld. He scored his first try for the Steelers in their 43-33 victory over Green Rockets Tokatsu last weekend and has now been asked to lead the team in their Japan Rugby League One Division 1 fixture against Suntory Sungoliath this Saturday.

“It was quite a surprise. I was a bit shocked at first because this is only my fourth game for the team,” Coetzee said on Thursday.

“Our regular captain suffered a concussion in the previous match and the head coach asked if I wouldn’t mind taking over the captaincy for this weekend. I told him that if the coaches and players back the decision then I’m more than happy to oblige,”

“When it was announced to the squad I was overwhelmed by the support from my teammates,”

“Our scrumhalf, a Japanese player, came to me and said, ‘Thank you for accepting this’. That just took my breath away. The Japanese are incredible people. They are so humble” Coetzee remarked.

Coetzee went on to say: “The players have such a high work ethic and they are so hungry to learn and improve. The Kobe Steelers is a very proud club and for me to be able to lead this team against a quality side like Suntory Sungoliath this weekend is a massive honour and a privilege and something I’ll treasure in my career.”

At the Vodacom Bulls Coetzee established himself as a formidable leader and says it’s a role he takes very seriously in any team he’s privileged to play for.

“The Vodacom Bulls really helped me to work on my leadership skills, which I never knew I possessed before then, to be honest. I’ve been very blessed to play under spectacular leaders throughout my career. When I was at the Cell C Sharks there was Bismarck du Plessis, then at Ulster I had Rory Best, and then in my time with the Springboks I had Jean de Villiers, Schalk Burger and Victor Matfield,”

“When I came to the Vodacom Bulls it was Duane Vermeulen. I’ve just tried to take all the positives from those great leaders and implement it in my own career. What it’s taught me is that as a leader you’re there to serve and help the team be better. It’s not about the individual. Actions speak louder than words and that’s how I try to approach my leadership role in a team, by leading by example on the field.”

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