Marcell Coetzee: Ulster flanker to make debut after injury

Marcell Coetzee played for the Sharks in South Africa before his move to Ulster
Marcell Coetzee played for the Sharks in South Africa before his move to Ulster

Marcel Coetzee will make his long-awaited Ulster debut in Friday night's Pro12 clash against Edinburgh at Kingspan Stadium.

The South African flanker has been unable to play for the province since his arrival last summer because of a serious knee problem.

Stuart Olding (calf), Peter Nelson (foot) and Wiehahn Herbst (back) are also available after injury.

Ulster have lost their last four matches and are sixth in the table.

Nelson returns from a long-term injury, with the full-back sidelined for over a year after dislocating his left mid-foot.

Nelson, who had played for his club side Ballynahinch in the All-Ireland League over the past few weeks, started four straight games at fly-half at the start of the 2015-16 season.

The Irish province have endured a miserable recent record of nine defeats in 13 games and will be determined to return to form against the ninth-placed Scots.

Long wait for Coetzee

It's been a frustrating time for Coetzee as he recovered from an injury sustained while playing for the Sharks last April.

The 25-year-old has won 28 caps for the Springboks and Ulster hope he can help rejuvenate a struggling team.

"It's like a new signing. Marcell's enthusiasm has been fantastic and his approach to training and preparation is first class," said Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss.

"It's important for him to have a good solid game but I don't think we'll expect everything from him this weekend, he needs to just get hands on the ball, get his shoulder into a tackle and start to feel the game again.

"I think we'll see some good things but we'll see better things the more he plays."

Payne making progress towards return

Meanwhile Ulster coach Les Kiss has indicated that Jared Payne may be in line for a return to action sooner than anticipated following the kidney injury he sustained during Ireland's final autumn international against Australia.

The Ireland management team have ruled Payne out of the Six Nations series but the player may line out for Ulster during that period after what Kiss calls "positive" progress in his recovery.

"He seems to be in a really good place. He is a guy who gets fit really quickly, he does not usually lose it a lot.

"He has lost a bit of weight as you can imagine, but he will put that on quickly as well.

"We are not likely to give you a date for a return, but each day is going to be important for him, but to tell you the truth it has been really positive."

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