Marx, Coles will have big say on the All Blacks vs Boks showdown
Malcolm Marx and Dane Coles are important members of their respective forward units and their teammates know this.
While Marx has been a pocket-battle in the form of his more vaunted predecessor Bismarck du Plessis‚ it's been the lineout accuracy that was the most important aspect of his play.
With Sam Whitelock set to be named in the All Black starting line-up on Thursday morning‚ Marx will have to find his jumpers with pin-point accuracy that has to be sharper than his display in the 23-all draw in Perth.
The All Blacks have long recognized 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 the said set-piece.
In Whitelock and Brodie Retallick‚ the All Blacks have excellent line-out operators even though current Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth‚ Lood de Jager‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit and Franco Mostert are more than capable adversaries.
Marx may still have throwing teething problems that manifest from time to time but having been 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 and enjoyed taking up third or fourth phase ball.
In Jerome Kaino's absence‚ New Zealand battle to contain strike runners in these phases despite their wins against Argentina and Australia.
However‚ the All Blacks will exploit this very same weakness and the Boks' 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 presence was sorely missed in the drawn British and Irish Lions series even though Codie Taylor deputised well in his absence.
His importance was as such that the Hurricanes saw fit to rush him for his 100th Super Rugby match in the semi-final loss against the Lions even though he missed the bulk of the season with concussion problems.
His impact is felt best out wide where the Boks have been seen to be vulnerable with small wings like Courtnall Skosan and Raymond Rhule being targeted as indifferent tacklers.
The message from the both sides has been about containing the collective and not worrying about individuals.
However‚ these hookers will have a big say on how proceedings pan out on Saturday.