"There's no doubt" in Ulster head coach Dan McFarland's mind that Marcell Coetzee would have made an appearance in the Springbok's World Cup final win over England only for injury.
The flanker was injured in the World Cup warm-ups against Argentina going off the field with an ankle injury. He went off due to a concussion in the first half of the win in Pretoria with him being ruled out for 12 weeks with the foot problem.
Speaking at the launch of this season's European Champions Cup, Dan McFarland said, "I spoke to him about it, you know arm around the shoulder. We understand that but for an Argentinian pushing him in the back he'd have been involved in that World Cup final, I have no doubt about that.
"He's such a quality player. It stands to the man, that hasn't stopped from playing really well for us, totally focused on what he has to do here, supporting his teammates and doing the business for Ulster on the pitch."
The 47-year-old is heading into his second season in charge of Ulster and believes there was a lot of promise shown on the pitch from his players in the first year.
"The season as a whole allowed the fellows to express themselves on the pitch what we really looked for and that was the competitive attitude," said McFarland. "We saw that throughout the season, we played some really good stuff last year. Having Marcell back was really important, I thought as a team we showed a lot of competitive spirit."
Ulster face Harlequins, Clermont Auvergne and first up for them in the European Champions Cup is against Bath. "Any of the Champions Cup pools are going to be difficult they often play out in ways you don't think," said McFarland at the launch in Cardiff.
"Teams come into the competition, not on-form but demonstrate form. The most important thing about the Champions Cup is the fact that there is no room for error. Whether that's in-game because of the quality of the two sides on the pitch, it's easily won or lost or in the Pool. Lose a game you shouldn't and that's it, you're done."
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