Faf heaps praise on Marx ahead of 50th Test: 'He's a teddy off the field and animal on it'

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  • Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk said hooker Malcolm Marx has been a model of consistency in his five years as a Springbok.
  • Marx will run on for his 50th cap when the Boks face the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship clash on Saturday.
  • De Klerk said they won't be blindsided by All Black players they haven't faced because of Covid-19.

In Mbombela

Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk described former Lions teammate and starting hooker for Saturday Malcolm Marx as a teddy bear off the field and an animal on it ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks in Mbombela.

The two players made their Test debuts at different stages in 2016 on the back of devastating Super Rugby form for the Lions.

Marx, who is three years De Klerk's junior, has marched onto his half-century of caps that he'll raise on Saturday faster than De Klerk.

READ | Kurt-Lee Arendse primed and ready for All Blacks: 'The bigger the occasion, the better he plays'

De Klerk will be playing in his 37th Test, having missed out on a few through injury and also not being eligible to play for the Boks in 2017 because of the 30-cap rule that was in place at the time.

De Klerk, who will also be starting in what will be his second hometown Test, said Marx has been a model of consistent improvement.

"Malcolm was still a boy when I first played with him at the Lions and the one thing that stood out was his strength over the ball," De Klerk said.

Springbok team:

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Trevor Nyakane

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Willie le Roux

"He wasn't the most accurate thrower when he started off, but he's worked so hard at it, I can't remember the last time he missed a lineout.

"His work rate and off-the-field work are immense, and his professionalism is great. He's a big teddy bear and everybody loves him, but once he puts the Bok jersey on, he becomes an animal.

"We're proud of him and I'm happy that he overtook me with the caps, it's great for him and I think he'll play a lot more Tests for the Boks.

Homework

South Africa's Super Rugby exit and Covid-19 mean there will be several All Black players who will be playing in South Africa for the first time on Saturday.

Technology means there's no player who can truly hide from tactical and technical scrutiny, but rugby is one of those collision sports where the proof is in the field pudding when the players clash.

READ | How do these All Blacks compare with 2009 'bad year' team in SA?

De Klerk said they've done their homework on the players they haven't played against as Ian Foster will announce his starting line-up on Thursday.

"We try to do our homework on all the players to get a sense of what their weaknesses and strengths are," De Klerk said.

"There will be some unknown players, but that's up to us and the coaches to ensure we know the detail on every single player.

"We've done our stuff on them already, so we need to go in deeper as the week goes on."

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