JOHANNESBURG – Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx will captain the Lions in the absence of the injured Warren Whiteley.
The 24-year-old was picked by coach Swys de Bruin ahead of men like Lions vice-captain and flyhalf Elton Jantjies, flank Kwagga Smith and scrumhalf Ross Cronjé.
Marx’s first assignment will be to lead the team against the Bulls in a round three Super Rugby clash at Ellis Park this Saturday.
Whiteley has been ruled out of rugby for up to eight weeks because of a pectoral muscle injury.
This will be Marx’s first stint as captain at senior level.
He has been a key member of the Lions team since making his debut four years ago, and has so far scored 27 Super Rugby tries from his 56 games – the same number of tries scored by backs Courtnall Skosan and Lionel Mapoe.
“I’m not always going to make the popular decisions, even though both Malcolm and Elton are popular in the team... this is the right decision,” said De Bruin about naming Marx as his team leader.
“Malcolm has got the right aura. He might be a quiet guy, but his teammates know him... he’s a server, a leader, a team man.”
In other changes made to the side that lost to the Stormers last week, wing Aphiwe Dyantyi returns for Skosan in a rotational switch, Hacjivah Dayimani replaces Whiteley, while in the second row, Rhyno Herbst comes in for the injured Marvin Orie (groin).
And on the bench, Robert Kruger will be the back-up lock, while Vincent Tshituka will serve as the loose forward understudy.
Cronjé is also back in the mix after recovering from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for six months.
There’s also a first Lions showing on the cards for loan player from the Bulls, centre Franco Naudé.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 3pm.
FACT FILE: JANTJIES TO PASS 1000 @SuperRugby points@LionsRugbyCo fly-half Elton Jantjies is set to become just the fifth player in the history of the competition to score 1,000 points.— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) February 28, 2019
Read more: https://t.co/Hm9jEwpqbj pic.twitter.com/9lreboOo4r
Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Nic Groom, Hacjivah Dayimani, Marnus Schoeman, Kwagga Smith, Stephan Lewies, Rhyno Herbst, Carlu Sadie, Malcolm Marx (captain), Dylan Smith.
Bench: Pieter Jansen, Frans van Wyk, Sti Sithole, Robert Kruger, Vincent Tshituka, Ross Cronjé, Franco Naudé, Courtnall Skosan.@jacq_west