Malcolm Marx must find his jumpers for All Blacks clash
Malcolm Marx and Dane Coles are important members of their respective forward units and their teammates know this.
Marx, in particular, has come on in leaps and bounds after his disappointing Test debut against the All Blacks in Christchurch in 2016 and may have a point to prove on Saturday at the North Harbour Stadium in Albany.
The Bok hooker’s lineout performance could prove to be crucial on Saturday.
With Sam Whitelock set to be named in the All Black starting line-up‚ Marx will have to find his jumpers a lot better than he did in last week’s draw in Perth.
The All Blacks have long recognised the importance of the lineout to the Springboks’ style of play, to a point where they moulded their game around it and became better than their rivals.
In Whitelock and Brodie Retallick‚ the All Blacks have excellent lineout operators even though Bok captain Eben Etzebeth‚ Lood de Jager‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit and Franco Mostert are capable adversaries.
Though Marx still has problems with his throwing, being entrusted with the senior hooker role despite having played only eight Tests is testament to his accelerated development.
Unlike Coles‚ who is utilised on the wider channels because of his dynamism and pace‚ Marx has been better used taking up third-or fourth-phase ball and enjoys it too.
In Jerome Kaino’s absence‚ New Zealand battled to contain strike runners in these phases despite their wins against Argentina and Australia.
However‚ the All Blacks will exploit this same weakness among the Boks and their inability to claim clean restarts after scoring tries. This is where Coles often comes into his own as a support runner who takes the ball up at pace against the fractured defence.
His impact is felt best out wide, where the Boks have been seen to be vulnerable with small wings such as Courtnall Skosan and Raymond Rhule targeted as indifferent tacklers.
The message from both sides has been about containing the collective and not worrying about individuals, but the hookers will have a big say in Saturday’s play.