Rugby World Cup door open for Handre Pollard after Springboks confirm Malcolm Marx will not be immediately replaced?

South Africa's Handre Pollard looks on during the captain's run in Johannesburg on July 28, 2023 ahead of their Rugby Championship match against Argentinia

Players such as Handre Pollard (pictured) and Lukhanyo Am could now be in the mix to make a return to the Rugby World Cup squad, as the Springboks don’t have to replace Malcolm Marx with another hooker. Picture: Wikus de Wet/AFP

Published Sep 14, 2023


SA Rugby has revealed that openside flank Marco van Staden has been training at hooker, sparking speculation that the Springboks may not replace the injured Malcom Marx with another genuine hooker.

The Springboks confirmed on Thursday morning that Marx has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup in France with a long-term knee injury. Marx was not included in the Springbok team to face Romania on Sunday in their second World Cup pool match.

Bongi Mbonambi was selected to start and lead the team, with Deon Fourie coming off the bench. Stormers hooker Joseph Dweba is on the standby list and normally you would expect him to be on the first flight out to France after Marx went down with only Mbonambi and the retreaded openside Fourie left in the squad to fill the No 2 jersey void.

However, the Springboks said in a statement they won’t be calling up a replacement just yet, as they feel they have “sufficient cover at hooker within the squad”.

“First and foremost, we are extremely disappointed for Malcolm, and we wish him all the best in his recovery,” said Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber.

“He’s been working very hard to be in the best form possible for the tournament, and it’s tragic that his campaign has ended this way. As a team we will remain in contact with him, as we do with all injured players such as Lukhanyo (Am), Handre (Pollard) and Lood (de Jager), and support him as much as we can through the recovery process.

“We have enough cover at hooker with Bongi (Mbonambi) and Deon (Fourie) in the squad, while Marco (van Staden) has also been training there and has been named on all our team sheets so far as a hooker option.

“We’ll assess our needs for the rest of the tournament and confirm who we are calling up as an additional player later this week.”

If Van Staden is considered a serious option going forward at this World Cup, the Boks could call up other players who missed the World Cup boat due to injury.

Players such as Handre Pollard and Lukhanyo Am could now be in the mix to make a return to the squad, as the Boks don’t have to replace Marx with another hooker.

It would be a major risk, though, as hooker is a very specialised position.