X Marx the spot for tough debut against All Blacks
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.”