LIONS hooker Malcolm Marx is set to have his first taste of Test Rugby against the All Blacks in Christchurch on Saturday.
Coach Allister Coetzee will only name his team on Wednesday evening (SA time) but reports from the Bok training camp indicate that Marx was the second choice hooker with Bongi Mbonambi relegated to the fringes during drills.
Lock Eben Etzebeth also missed training after taking a knock to the leg‚ but he should be ready for Saturday’s Rugby Championship encounter.
If Marx‚ who is a noted for his sheer physical presence‚ were selected‚ it would be a clear indication that the Boks are looking to play this match with physical intensity rather than flair.
Already Coetzee has called in meaty flank Willem Alberts‚ which was the first hint that the Boks have accepted they cannot outmanoeuvre the All Blacks‚ so they will have to try to dominate them physically. Alberts is likely to be on the bench.
Under the circumstances‚ it is not a bad ploy. When the Boks play with controlled aggression against the All Blacks they can upset the world champions.
Despite losing to Japan at 2015 ’s World Cup‚ the Boks took the All Blacks to the wire in the semifinal. A Dan Carter drop-goal was the difference between the sides as the All Blacks won 20-18. The Boks’ sheer physicality at Twickenham that day nearly got the job done.
Marx will also bring vital energy after some lacklustre performances as he plays in the mould of Bismarck du Plessis‚ who Coetzee has overlooked. Du Plessis suffered a chest injury while playing for French club Montpellier at the weekend and is expected to be out of action for three months.
“We have a few strengths that we want to use and each rugby match has its own character‚” assistant coach Johan van Graan said.