Marx’s injury means code red for the Lions
It was perhaps just a tad ironic that Malcolm Marx’s durability was brought into question on the day marking namesake‚ and another celebrated Red‚ Karl’s birth date 200 years ago.
The injury to Marx was part of a Super Rugby double whammy for the Lions in Wellington on Saturday as they slipped to a 28-19 defeat against the Hurricanes.
In their second successive defeat on tour‚ they lost the hugely influential hooker and star player Marx early in the match to a groin injury.
He will return to South Africa on Monday and will undergo a scan which will shed light on the severity of the injury.
While the Lions will hold their breath the injury is not serious‚ Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will also be on tenterhooks that the knock will not keep Marx out of next month’s engagements against Wales and England.
The Boks play Wales at the start of next month in Washington‚ an assignment Marx is likely to miss if it places doubt on his ability to front up for the more pressing three-test series against England.
“It was a big setback for us losing the South African player of the year so early‚” acknowledged Lions coach Swys de Bruin.
“He will definitely fly back on Monday. He will do all his scans in Joburg‚ that’s how the doctor prefers it.”
The injury comes as a huge blow for a player who has continued his barnstorming form of last season.
Marx has towered head and shoulders above his teammates this season.
When he departed the field on Saturday his absence was keenly felt.
His replacement Robbie Coetzee‚ admittedly in blustery conditions‚ struggled to consistently find his jumpers.
Equally‚ Marx was missed in bashing away at the gainline and exacting steals at the ruck.
Fortunately for the Lions they have unearthed a livewire of a loose forward who punches well above his weight at the breakdown and the tight loose.
In Marnus Schoeman they have a dynamic backrower whose industry is felt as keenly in attack as it is in defence.
In Marx’s absence‚ Schoeman stepped up to the plate at the breakdown as the Hurricanes squandered positions of promise.
Despite being well off the pace it helped the Lions go into the break just seven points adrift.
It could have been worse as two mistakes on defence cost the tourists’ early on.
Poor marking from Ruan Combrinck‚ who had a day to forget‚ on Ben Lam allowed the Hurricanes left wing the first of his three tries. To compound matters the visitors’ line-out was a mess but the Lions deserve credit for hanging tough when the hosts’ threatened to run amok.
At 28-7 the Lions looked in danger of dropping their bundle but their fortunes changed once they turned to the men on the bench.
It was in the scrum where their game got the most traction as props Ruan Dreyer and Johannes Jonker put the squeeze on the Hurricanes’ scrum.
Dreyer‚ who packed down on the loosehead side‚ was particularly forceful as he sunk his claws into Hurricanes’ replacement prop Chris Eves.
Tries by scrumhalf Nic Groom and a breakaway effort from replacement wing Sylvian Mahuza lent some respectability to the scoreline‚ but the home side never looked like relinquishing the lead.
“I’m disappointed in the defeat but I can’t judge the guys on effort‚” said De Bruin.
“It was one of those games. We showed a lot more effort than against the Reds. This was against a strong team.
“We had opportunities we didn’t convert. We’ll keep on fighting and we’ll keep on working hard. “We’ll see if we can end this tour on a high (against the Highlanders)‚” said De Bruin.