Business Day

X Marx the spot for tough de­but against All Blacks

- CRAIG RAY

HOOKER Mal­colm Marx will have his first taste of Test rugby in the most daunt­ing of are­nas af­ter be­ing named on the Spring­bok bench for Satur­day’s clash against the world cham­pion All Blacks in Christchur­ch.

The 22-year-old Lions front rower will rel­ish the phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion against the Rugby Cham­pi­onship pace­set­ters, but he will have to bide his time on the side with skip­per Adri­aan Strauss wear­ing the hooker’s No 2 jer­sey.

Flank Fran­cois Louw reaches a per­sonal mile­stone by mak­ing his 50th Test ap­pear­ance, hav­ing made his de­but in 2010 against Wales.

Marx is one of five changes to the match­day 23 from the side that lost 23-17 to Aus­tralia in Bris­bane last week.

Lock Pi­eter-Steph du Toit and tight­head Vin­cent Koch will both start this week. Du Toit re­places the in­jured Lood de Jager while Koch comes in for Lourens Adri­aanse, who drops to the bench. Trevor Nyakane misses out al­to­gether.

French-based flank Willem Al­berts is in­cluded on the bench with Du Toit’s el­e­va­tion to the start­ing lineup, while cen­tre Damian de Al­lende is pre­ferred to Lionel Mapoe among the re­serves. The lat­ter falls out of the squad com­pletely.

Coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee has opted to keep faith in fly­half El­ton Jan­tjies and the cen­tre pair­ing of Juan de Jongh and Jesse Kriel even though none im­pressed last week.

Marx be­comes only the fourth Spring­bok from pres­ti­gious King Ed­ward School fol­low­ing Henry “Skaap” For­rest, Joe van Niek­erk and Bryan Ha­bana.

Marx played in the 2014 SA Un­der-20 side that beat the Ju­nior All Blacks twice on home soil dur­ing the Ju­nior World Cham­pi­onships, so he has an inkling of what it is like to taste vic­tory over New Zea­land.

Ha­bana is in the start­ing lineup where he will earn his 120th cap and his 24th against the All Blacks. He has been on the win­ning team only eight times in his pre­vi­ous 23 en­coun­ters against the old foe.

Re­gard­ing the in­clu­sion of Marx on the bench, Coet­zee said: “Mal­colm has huge po­ten­tial and we have a plan for him and 15 Jo­han Goosen, 14 Bryan Ha­bana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Fran­cois Hougaard, 10 El­ton Jan­tjies, Faf de Klerk, 8 War­ren White­ley, 7 Te­boho Mo­hoje, 6 Fran­cois Louw, 5 Pi­eter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etze­beth, 3 Vin­cent Koch, 2 Adri­aan Strauss (capt), Tendai Mtawarira. Re­place­ments: 16 Mal­colm Marx, 17 Steven Kit­shoff, 18 Lourens Adri­aanse, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Willem Al­berts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Damian de Al­lende Bongi Mbonambi be­cause of Adri­aan’s re­tire­ment at the end of the sea­son.

“Mal­colm now gets a chance on the re­serve bench and it would be great to see him in ac­tion, should he get the chance.

“I have de­cided on a six-two split on the bench again as I be­lieve Willem [Al­berts] and Jaco [Kriel] will each make a big im­pact when they en­ter the field of play and I de­cided to swap Damian with Lionel to en­sure we have cover for in­side cen­tre.”

Du Toit will re­sume his Storm­ers part­ner­ship at lock with Eben Etze­beth in his first start against the All Blacks.

New Zea­land will name their team on Thurs­day but few changes are ex­pected from the side that beat Ar­gentina 57-22 in Hamil­ton last week. It took the All Blacks’ cur­rent win­ning streak to 14 matches and their home win­ning run to 43 vic­to­ries.

Coet­zee ac­knowl­edged that the Spring­boks would face a for­mi­da­ble and in-form All Black team on Satur­day.

“Each match be­tween these two tra­di­tional rugby ri­vals is al­ways tough, and Satur­day’s Test is bound to be another tremen­dous bat­tle,” said Coet­zee.

“Nu­mer­ous play­ers will play in their first Test against the All Blacks and there’s a good deal of ex­cite­ment be­cause of that.

“We know that our dis­ci­pline was not on par against the Wal­la­bies in Bris­bane, and we have to show a big im­prove­ment on sev­eral fronts. Our de­fence will have to be solid for the full du­ra­tion of the match, be­cause the All Blacks have the game break­ers that will pun­ish you for any de­fen­sive lapse.”

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