Bok hooker Malcolm Marx ruled out of World Cup

14 September 2023 - 10:46
By LIAM DEL CARME IN FRANCE
Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx during the Rugby World Cup 2023 match against Scotland at Orange Velodrome on September 10, 2023 in Marseille, France.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx during the Rugby World Cup 2023 match against Scotland at Orange Velodrome on September 10, 2023 in Marseille, France.

The Springboks have been dealt a crushing blow with the news that star hooker Malcolm Marx is out of the Rugby World Cup.

Marx injured his anterior cruciate ligament during training on Wednesday, robbing the team one of its most valuable assets for the remainder of the tournament.

Though Bongi Mbonambi will now have to step forward as the go-to hooker on tour, it leaves the Boks in a position they had hoped to avoid.

Their decision to name just two regular hookers in their 33-man squad for the RWC invited questions. They also have the versatile Deon Fourie as additional cover in their group. While Mbonambi and Fourie are anyway the designated hookers for this weekend's clash against Romania in Bordeaux, the Boks could summon Joseph Dweba who was left out of the touring group. Dweba has been a regular in the Bok group over the past year or so and should fit in seamlessly should he be asked to head to France.

In the short-term, with Mbonambi and Fourie the only hookers in the group, flank Marco van Staden has been put on notice for a potential role in the front row should the need arise. He has practised the primary hooking disciplines over the past while.

We are extremely disappointed for Malcolm and wish him all the best in his recovery,” said coach Jacques Nienaber.

He’s been working hard to be in the best form possible for the tournament and it’s tragic that his campaign has ended this way. As a team, we will remain in contact with him as we do with all injured players such as Lukhanyo [Am], Handré [Pollard] and Lood [de Jager], and support him as much as we can through the recovery process.

We have enough cover at hooker with Bongi [Mbonambi] and Deon [Fourie] in the squad, while Marco [van Staden] has also been training there and has been named on all our team sheets so far as a hooker option.

We’ll assess our needs for the rest of the tournament and confirm who we are calling up as an additional player later this week.”

The loss of Marx is huge. He not only brings bone-rattling physicality but consistency in appearance and performance.

Against New Zealand last month he scored his 17th Test try, which is a Bok record for a forward.

To suggest he is part of the Bok furniture would be an understatement. He played in all the Boks' Tests in 2021 and 2022 and this year only missed the clashes against the Wallabies in Pretoria as several players were rested before the Test against the All Blacks in Auckland a week later, and the match against Argentina in Buenos Aires when a less experienced team was deployed for their RWC warm-up game there.

Dweba has played in just six Tests and will have to hit the deck running when he arrives in France.

The Boks have suffered a number of injuries before and now during the RWC. Regular starters Pollard, Am and De Jager are long members of the Bok infirmary, but Eben Etzebeth and Marx are now unwelcome additions.