The Springboks’ World Cup rivals will breathe easier knowing a key weapon in the defending champions’ arsenal in France has been neutralised, writes MARK KEOHANE.
One of the original members of the Bomb Squad that helped South Africa win the 2019 World Cup, Malcolm Marx has been ruled out of the remainder of this year’s tournament with a long-term knee injury.
Widely considered the best hooker on the planet, Marx wrestled the No 2 jumper away from Bongi Mbonambi in 2023 with strong performances in the Rugby Championship and World Cup warm-up clashes against the All Blacks and Wales.
The loss of Marx is a massive blow for the Boks’ title defence, and writing for TimesLIVE, Keohane argues that the 29-year-old’s absence will emboldened the likes of Ireland, the All Blacks and hosts France.
“Marx’s absence for the rest of the World Cup has changed the dynamic of the famed and feared Bomb Squad and given life to a tournament in which the Springboks looked like the only winner after the opening round,” he writes.
“The Boks’ lineout maul is a fundamental pillar of their playbook and Mbonambi and Marx are key pieces of that puzzle. With Marx gone, it really does fall on Mbonambi to carry the load for the rest of the tournament.
“Marx’s unavailability can’t be overstated: He is considered the best hooker in the game, but is equally as potent as the best specialist loose forwards when it comes to winning turnovers at the breakdown.
“Historically, he has been immense in this all-rounder role and there is no ‘like-for-like’ replacement in South Africa for Marx.
“Marx’s misfortune is a body blow to the Springboks.”
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