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There were multiple first-year players who put their hands up for this award in 2012. But it's hard to go past the Sharks flanker Marcel Coetzee, who emerged as one of the top players in the competition.
The Sharks loose forward trio was always going to be a tough one to break into, with Keegan Daniel, Ryan Kankowski and Willem Alberts all favourites to occupy the three jerseys. That Coetzee was able to break into the group and prove himself undroppable perhaps is the best indicator of the impact that he made.
He is a strong ball runner who has good ball skills and works well as a link man for the backs. His tackling is strong, and he is effective enough at the breakdown.
He was chosen to represent the Springboks after just a handful of Super Rugby games, displacing Heinrich Brussow. We all know what a great player that man is, but there were few who would disagree with the inclusion of Coetzee, further showing the success of his rookie season.
Honourable Mentions: Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, TJ Perenara, Brodie Retallick, Johan Goosen.