Marx will push Bok skipper hard - Mallett
Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett has been impressed by the performances this season of Lions hooker Malcolm Marx.
Mallett was speaking in the SuperSport studio following the Lions’ 42-25 Super Rugby quarter-final win over the Crusaders in Johannesburg over the weekend.
Mallett singled out Marx as a player for the future.
“Malcolm Marx used to be a loose forward and he is a marvellous defender. His tight phases are amazing. His throwing in at the lineouts, his driving play, his tackling and his scrumming are excellent. The props next to him must feel incredibly secure,” said Mallett.
Mallett believes Marx will stake a claim for the Springbok No 2 jersey currently occupied by captain Adriaan Strauss.
“He is going to push Adriaan Strauss very hard this year. The big difference between Marx and Bismarck du Plessis is he is appreciably faster around the field. Bismarck is a powerful but slow player, more like another prop. This guy is like a No 8 playing hooker. He has the skill set of a loose forward, but the correct lineout and scrumming techniques of a world-class hooker.”
Mallett also heaped praise on the rest of the Lions team.
“It was a brilliant performance by the Lions. The Crusaders are a team that never go away. They had long periods with the ball, but I thought the Lions' defence was outstanding. We’ve talked a lot about the great start they had and the tries they scored, but it was the times they didn’t have the ball that I was most impressed with. They defended incredibly well, worked hard for each other, made it difficult for the Crusaders to create gaps, because they had a shifting defence as opposed to a press defence, and they played territory well. Even though some of the kicks were inaccurate, they still forced (fullback) Israel Dagg to run the ball out of his 22.”
The Lions backline was also on song, according to Mallett.
“We are so lucky with centres, but Rohan Janse van Rensburg has been very good, particularly defensively. We see him give the Lions forward momentum so well, but most important is the fact he tackles so well because he is so physical.
“Faf de Klerk is the heartbeat of this Lions team. He is quick to the breakdown, the accuracy of his passing is excellent and his reading of the game is good. He is clearly the best No 9 in South Africa, whereas at the end of last season we weren’t sure who was going to take over from Fourie du Preez. We are very fortunate that Faf has come through as well as he has.
“Ruan Combrinck’s try was world-class and proves that South African rugby players can score tries like New Zealanders, we just have to keep on practicing it to get it in our system so that it comes naturally.
“This was a really good performance by the Lions and they thoroughly deserved to win. I’m so proud of them.”