Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber spoke at length about the devastating blow of losing hooker Malcolm Marx to injury as his side arrived in Bordeaux for their second Pool B match of the Rugby World Cup. Talk has turned to a replacement, with flyhalf Handre Pollard the not-so-obvious choice but he is fit and raring to go.
The Springboks will play Romania for just the second time in their history on Sunday afternoon. The Boks rolled into Bordeaux for their second pool game against Romania, missing a key part in the defence of their World Cup title.
Malcolm Marx is a world-class player, who impacted almost every match he played in for the Green and Gold, and now the Springboks must move forward without him and according to Neinaber, they have barely had time to grieve.
“Malcolm, how did it happen, it was a freak accident his legs just got caught between another player’s legs. It wasn’t a contact session it was a team run where we had two opposing sides, and we were painting pictures for each other, and it was just unfortunate. I think it is a blow on various levels like yesterday the majority of our team were when we left Toulon to come to Bordeaux, we were all sad and that’s probably the first loss,” says Nienaber.
What one did learn from the coach’s impressions of Marx, is that this is a very close-knit Bok squad.
“Every individual in our team adds something to the Boks. The Springboks, the environment, the team so we lose that with Malcolm. A typical thing is in the mornings I saw Malcolm very early with his daughter in his arms, so I am going to miss that. The chats we had in the morning early,” Nienaber added.
On Marx’s replacement, Nienaber was playing his cards close to his chest but it is safe to say that it will not be a like-for-like substitution when the next player is called up, which by all reckoning should be flyhalf, Handre Pollard.
“I think Handre is in the mix as we would with the other players, Lukhanyo [Am] is very close to being ready probably a week or two before he is ready and fit to play and then so all the players who were injured that were on our ready-to-play list as they return back from injury. We will have a look at all of them,” Nienaber explains.
Marx’s injury did not impact the team to face Romania. That team had already been named, without Marx, but with four scrum-halves, although Nienaber was clear that the days of overlooking tier-two sides are long gone.
“We saw with Fiji, we saw with Scotland in the warm-up games last night, we saw with Uruguay. I think that must probably be credit to world rugby and all the effort they have put into tier-two nations to get them to close that gap which I think is awesome, you can’t go these days and play a tier two nation and expect listen you are going to have an easy game,” Nienaber elaborates.
The Boks play Romania in Bordeaux on Sunday afternoon, and then it’s Ireland in Paris the following Saturday.
Original Story by www.sabcnews.com