Why burly but 'phenomenal' Frans Malherbe is actually a points machine for the Springboks

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  • Springbok hard-man Frans Malherbe isn't known as a points machine, but the milestone of his 50th Test has put into focus his true value.
  • National coach Jacques Nienaber points out that the tighthead has indirectly scored a lot of points for SA due to his scrumming prowess.
  • Even though he's perceived as an unsung hero on the outside, Malherbe is fully valued within the Bok environment.

Frans Malherbe and points aren't naturally associated with each other.

When the Springboks' burly but thoroughly imposing tighthead runs onto the Ellis Park turf on Saturday against the All Blacks in his 50th Test, the record will show that he's only ever scored a solitary try at international level.

Yet, as national coach Jacques Nienaber points out, the man affectionately known as "Bud Spencer" due to his striking resemblance to the legendary Italian actor and sportsman is indirectly as devastating a points machine as Handre Pollard... even if the definition is a bit flexible.

"If we go and count all the points kicked over due to Frans' scrum work - even though he himself has scored only one try, five points are behind his name - you will come out with a lot of points accounted for by him," said the Bok mentor.

"If you also count all the penalties he has won at scrum time in our half where we can then kick the ball up-field and get to walk 40-50m into the opponent’s half, he has carried our team on many occasions."

READ | Lood de Jager expecting All Black backlash at Ellis Park: 'They'll come with everything they have'

That's indeed a highly appropriate way of "tangibly" honouring one of the unsung heroes of the Springbok team.

Malherbe, an unassuming and quiet man, plays the game much in the way he's perceived as an individual and that means he does grab attention like some of his team-mates.

Not that it would matter to this quintessential team-man.

As long as the right people - Nienaber and co - value what he does, no other opinion matters.

"I suppose people are right in labelling him an unsung hero. He's definitely not one in our environment because we value him so much," said Nienaber.

"I've been fortunate enough to coach him since he was at the Western Province's academy and it's a privilege to see a milestone game like this. 

"We understand what he contributes. He's a big hero."

Despite his distinctly old-school frame, Malherbe maintains a remarkable work ethic on the field.

Springboks:
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux 

"Frans is a phenomenal team man and his teammates know what he brings to the squad in terms of his scrummaging," said Nienaber.

"But, if you also go look at his defence, he gets around the field and he makes his tackles. He makes few errors and he is worth so much to us. 

"It just shows you the nice thing of rugby. It's a game for all shapes and sizes. Frans is worth his weight in gold."

Kick-off at the weekend is at 17:05.


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