JOHANNESBURG – After his 10 out of 10 showing against the All Blacks at Newlands a year ago, Malcolm Marx was always going to be a hot topic for discussion this week.
So it came as no surprise when New Zealand hooker Codie Taylor was quizzed about his match-up against the Springbok No 2 this weekend.
The teams clash for the second time this season at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday in the final Rugby Championship Test of the year, with the Boks having edged round one in Wellington 36-34 three weeks ago.
The head to head battle between the respective hookers is set to play a key role in how the teams perform at the weekend, with Taylor probably the more in-form man at the moment.
But who can forget Marx’s outstanding showing at Newlands in Cape Town last year, which was hailed as a 10/10 effort by a New Zealand newspaper.
“He’s certainly one of their key players,” said Taylor when asked about Marx’s influence in the Bok team.
“He builds a lot of momentum for them, he’s one of their strengths, he’s great over the ball, but is also a threat with ball in hand.”
Yesterday’s press conference then took an interesting turn when the hooker was somewhat awkwardly asked what he felt going up against someone South Africans thought was the best hooker in the world in Marx.
“If that’s what the world thinks... he’s a great player but I’m not going to get caught up in that. What it means is that one must be on top of your game.”
Taylor’s Crusaders team-mate and good friend, centre Ryan Crotty, then said: “Codie is probably getting tired of talking about himself, so I’ll talk about him a bit.
“I’ve seen his game go to a new level this year, especially for the Crusaders. “He’s a massive reason why we’ve been successful this year, in driving the team, his leadership, taking charge of the defence.
“He’s an intelligent hooker and I’d take him over Marx any day of the week.”
Taylor added that there was a lot more to the Bok pack than Marx and that his team would have to counter several quality players if they were to correct the wrongs of Wellington a few weeks back.
“Their locks and loosies are very strong, with a guy like (Siya) Kolisi leading the forward pack around the field... he’s a huge confidence booster for them.
“We can’t focus on one guy (Marx).”
The All Blacks will enjoy a rest day today before returning to the training field tomorrow when coach Steve Hansen will announce his line-up for the match, which kicks off at 5pm on Saturday.@jacq_west