Marcell Coetzee hasn’t given up hope of a late call-up to the South African World Cup squad and hopes his superb form for Ulster will help get him to Japan.
The back-row forward has recovered from two seasons decimated by knee injuries to play a pivotal role in Ulster’s resurgence.
The 28-times capped Springbok played just five times for Ulster in two years but has been one of the top three performers pretty much every one of the 21 times he’s taken to the field this season.
When asked if former Munster coach Rassie Erasmus has been in touch since his remarkable renaissance, Coetzee admitted: “Unfortunately not, no.”
“If I understand the structures there, they are going to go with the players they have now and back the guys they think can do the job.
“The short answer is no I don’t have any contact with him, but if something were to happen to somebody I just want to make sure I’m at the peak of my form with performances and conditioning-wise in case I’m called for it (World Cup).”
As he entered the final year of his contract, Coetzee admits he thought his future at Ulster was over.
Yet the back-rower, who turns 28 next week, has turned it all around helping Ulster achieve Champions Cup knockout rugby for the first time since 2014 and bring a home PRO14 quarter-final to Kingspan Stadium against Connacht.
At one stage I was thinking that I was done with the club and I’ve only played a few games here, and that would have been a heavy burden on me leaving this club.
“So it’s special and humbling, you missed just about all the games for two years and now playing play-off rugby and to be a consistent part of it all is just the cherry on top for me.
“It’s a moment you want to make the most of with your team-mates and enjoy the moment.”
In February Ulster rewarded Coetzee’s form with a three-year contract until 2022, which given his injury profile, was a leap of faith.
“That was massive and played a big part in my re-signing,” he revealed.
“But they’ve invested so much in you and when they decide they were going to stick with you, that was just extra motivation to get back on the pitch.
“Hopefully you will have seen from my performances this season that I really appreciated that.”