Home Sport Bongi’s the favourite at hooker for Boks but what about Marx?

Bongi’s the favourite at hooker for Boks but what about Marx?

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Malcolm Marx was regarded by some as the world’s best hooker previously, but such was Mbonambi’s impact off the bench that he forced his way into the starting line-up for the big World Cup games in 2019.

Bongi Mbonambi during the 2019 Castle Lager Rugby Championship. Picture: Christiaan Kotze, BackpagePix

OVER the last few weeks, our rugby writers have been debating their Springbok choices from No.15 to No.1 for the upcoming series against the British & Irish Lions. Today the focus is on No.2 …

Ashfak Mohamed’s Choice: Bongi Mbonambi

Malcolm Marx was regarded by some as the world’s best hooker previously, but such was Mbonambi’s impact off the bench that he forced his way into the starting line-up for the big World Cup games in 2019.

And while he may have been pre-occupied in recent months with his move to the Sharks from the Stormers, which was finally confirmed this week, Mbonambi just goes to another level when he is in the green and gold. Accurate with his line-out throws, hungry at the breakdowns and a force with ball-in-hand and on defence, Mbonambi is the ultimate modern hooker.

Morgan Bolton’s Choice: Malcolm Marx

The former Lions No.2 has been in Japan since the end of the World Cup, so he probably hasn’t played at the intensity necessary for international rugby. The next few weeks, therefore, will be extremely important to get Marx up to speed. Even though his line-out work has always been in question, Marx to my mind makes up for his work-rate around the field in attack and defence.

In the final against England he barely put a foot wrong when he came on as a replacement for Bongi Mbonambi. The Stormers man is also an impressive player, and might be a better operator at the setpiece, but when Marx is on song there are very few in world rugby who can match him.

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Wynona Louw’s Choice: Bongi Mbonambi

The Stormers hooker was sensational during the Boks’ World Cup-winning campaign. Throughout that entire season, in fact, Mbonambi was so good that he unseated Malcolm Marx as the first-choice hooker, and since then there hasn’t been any doubt regarding the pecking order or who owns the top spot.

While it’s been a while since that glorious time in Japan, Mbonambi – who will complete a move to the Sharks later this year – has been solid for the Stormers in an all-Bok front row. With Marx, Scarra Ntubeni and Joseph Dweba having been named in Jacques Nienaber’s 46-man squad it’s an exciting mix. But we all know who will start in the middle of the powerhouse Bok front row come the Lions series.

Mike Greenaway’s Choice: Bongi Mbonambi

The effectiveness of the front row is very much about teamwork and the unit that performed so admirably in the World Cup final should be retained as far as possible, particularly because there are no new pretenders playing better than Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx.

There are successors on the horizon — I enjoy the former Cheetahs hooker Joseph Dweba, now with Bordeaux — but right now it should be one of the two World Cup hookers. Marx had been the man in possession until not long before the World Cup, but Mbonambi inched ahead of him on form. We have not been able to see much of Marx because he has been in Japan, and they have barely played there, so Mbonambi gets the nod.