Joseph Dweba Marx Springboks

Joseph Dweba at Springboks training. Photo: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

ICYMI: Reason for Boks starting Dweba ahead of Marx

The fact that Malcolm Marx was battling with ‘stiffness’ was reportedly a factor that led to Joseph Dweba’s start at hooker.

Joseph Dweba Marx Springboks

Joseph Dweba at Springboks training. Photo: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

One of the talking points in the Boks’ last game was the selection decision at hooker, with coach Jacques Nienaber having defended his decision to start inexperienced hooker Joseph Dweba in the 35-23 defeat against New Zealand, saying “there’s always a reason” for every selection.

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Dweba, who was selected in place of Bongi Mbonambi after the latter took a knock in training, struggled with his discipline and accuracy from the opening whistle, which allowed the All Blacks to take full advantage and gain a foothold in the match.

Malcolm Marx was rushed onto the field after 30 minutes, but many felt he should have started the game, particularly after his superb performance in the No 2 jersey in Mbombela the week before.

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Jacques Nienaber said there was a clear reason for the decision to start Dweba, even if he didn’t want to reveal what it was.

However, according to Sunday newspaper Rapport, the decision was based on Marx reporting stiffness in his hips in the Test at Mbombela, and the Boks did not want to risk starting him.

If Marx had been forced off early in the Test, the coaches were mindful of avoiding having to finish the match with 14 men if Joseph Dweba had then also gone down with injury.

It’s also reported that Warrick Gelant is likely to start on the right wing for the next Test against Australia, with his experience likely to see him crack the nod ahead of young Canan Moodie.

In another interesting news, Salmaan Moerat is expected to feature quite prominently in the upcoming Tests as the Boks look to manage the game-time of Eben Etzebeth, while Evan Roos should receive more opportunities at Test level against Argentina.

Meanwhile, in his column for Sport24, former Boks coach Nick Mallett did speak about the selection talking point at hooker.

Before the game, I didn’t hear many commentators saying either selection was a glaring error, though there were a few discussing starting Malcolm Marx after such a big performance in Mbombela the week before.

Bongi Mbonambi’s injury threw everything up in the air because he has been the starter and Marx the finisher right from World Cup 2019. It was a banana peel for the coaching staff, but I disagree with their views on Marx.

I think he is a brilliant hooker, and I would start him in most games. I can understand why they would want him to come off the bench – they give him 40 minutes virtually every week, anyway – but I still think there is more value in him hitting the opposition hard from the first whistle.

You can justify starting Mbonambi – he has been superb there and letting him empty the tank before turning to Marx is the blueprint that has worked for the Boks – but I feel that it was too big a game for Dweba to start against the All Blacks, especially when you consider that he struggled against Wales and that he hasn’t been a starting player for Bordeaux in France.

Going from being a replacement player at his club to starting against New Zealand is a massive step up, and I think, given that inexperience, it was the wrong call.

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DWEBA AND MARX ARE THE ONLY TWO SPECIALIST HOOKERS ON TOUR

Props

Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers)

Vincent Koch (Wasps)

Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers)

Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks)

Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92)

Hookers

Joseph Dweba (DHL Stormers)

Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears)

Locks

Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks)

Lood de Jager (Wild Knights)

Salmaan Moerat (DHL Stormers)

Loose forwards

Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz)

Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks)

Elrigh Louw (Vodacom Bulls)

Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs)

Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers)

Duane Vermeulen (Ulster)

Utility forwards

Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers)

Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)

Scrumhalves

Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles)

Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks)

Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers)

Cobus Reinach (Montpellier)

Flyhalves

Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes)

Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers)

Midfielders

Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks)

Damian de Allende (Wild Knights)

Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins)

Outside backs

Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks)

Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz)

Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls)

Warrick Gelant (Racing 92)

Utility Backs

Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers)

Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles)

Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs)