Johannesburg — Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick has answered the million-dollar question as to why Malcolm Marx will be on the bench tomorrow, especially after Bongi Mbonambi pulled out midweek with an injury.
It was a surprise to most that Marx, the Man of the Match in Mbombela, did not continue this week in the first place, and then when Mbonambi got injured in training, the door seemed open for Marx to start, only for the honour to be given to Joseph Dweba.
“We had a massive debate before we made that selection,” Stick said at the traditional Friday press conference he holds with captain Siya Kolisi. “Malcolm had a great game last week in his 50th Test and was the best player on the park.
“We know what he has done for us in the past as a key part of the bomb squad and particularly as a front row combination off the bench with Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch. They have done it many times together and with great impact.
“Then we have Ox Nche getting a chance at loosehead prop and we bore it mind that Ox and Joseph have been playing together since the age of 19, since school, and at the Cheetahs,” Stick explained. “So as a coaching staff it made sense to go for combinations both in the starting front row and in the bomb squad.”
Stick then turned his attention to the main sideshow this week — the verbals coming from the New Zealand camp about the Boks’ alleged dangerous approach to the aerial game that served them so well in Nelspruit.
“We used to be accused of being boring…! Stick smiled before getting serious. “All of a sudden our aerial game is a problem despite us having played the same way since we first got together (2018). We do not hide how we play the kicking game, it is part of our DNA.
“Kurt-Lee had been really good in his contesting and I thought Makazole Mapimpi was excellent in that regard, too, and then it was very unfortunate that Kurt-Lee got his timing wrong at the end of the game in the collision with Beauden Barrett.
“Obviously it was not intentional, it is not how we coach and we aim to follow the letter of the law. It was just unfortunate and Kurt-Lee made a point of apologising to Beauden.
“We play in the spirit of the game, we have great respect for the All Blacks, but we won’t change anything.”