Springboks

5 possible Springbok hookers for June Tests

2018-05-11 07:26
Malcolm Marx (Getty)

Cape Town - With Malcolm Marx out injured, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus must back someone else in the No 2 jersey for three Tests against England in June.

It is perhaps his biggest selection headache heading into the series. 

It is not that Erasmus is short of options in that department, but rather that he has lost perhaps his most dangerous asset in Marx. 

Still just 23, Marx hasn't taken long to establish himself as one of the best hookers in the world. 

His throwing at the lineout is generally accurate, but it is in open play and at the breakdown where Marx emerges as a special talent. 

There is still the possibility that Marx could feature in the England series, but the chances are that he won't. 

Here, we look at five hookers who are in the running to replace Marx in June. All images from Gallo.

Bismarck du Plessis 

Age - 33

Tests - 79

Erasmus has previously hinted that he is keen on bringing Du Plessis back into the Bok mix, and why not? He last played for the Boks in the 2015 World Cup, but he is in superb form at the moment for Montpellier in France. The main attraction in backing Du Plessis is obviously the experience that he comes with, but he is also perhaps the most similar option to Marx. Du Plessis is also a massive player at the breakdown, physical on defence and a strong ball carrier.

Adriaan Strauss

Age - 32

Tests - 66

Strauss has rediscovered his love for the game after a tough year captaining the national side. He retired at the end of that disastrous 2016 season, but he has been superb in Super Rugby this year. Strauss has hinted that he may be contemplating a move out of retirement, while Erasmus has said it would be "stupid" to ignore Strauss if he was available. With Marx now ruled out, the possibility of Du Plessis and Strauss being re-united in Bok colours is very real. 

Bongi Mbonambi

Age - 27

Tests - 14

Mbonambi was the man Allister Coetzee backed as his reserve hooker over 2016 and 2017, but injury has made 2018 a tough year for the Stormers front-rower. He is back to full fitness now, but it is still hard to see Erasmus going this route with Mbonambi still not back in the Stormers squad and very short on game time. 

Chiliboy Ralepelle

Age - 31

Tests - 23

This is probably a more likely option than Mbonambi given that Ralepelle has been playing for the Sharks this year. In now familiar fashion, Ralepelle has been reliable in all departments in 2018. His accurate lineout throwing is his biggest strength, while his experience gives him a cool head in pressure situations. He emerges as a safe bench option should Erasmus want to go with the more explosive Du Plessis up front. 

Akker van der Merwe

Age - 26

Tests - 0

It has taken a while, but Van der Merwe finally looks to be settled at the Sharks. He made a name for himself at the Lions for being a hooker who was quick, strong and impactful and he has started showing those signs for the Durbanites in recent weeks. While a Test debut might still seem a stretch at this stage, Van der Merwe is at least playing himself into the conversation.  

Read more on:    springboks  |  malcolm marx  |  rugby
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