March 5, 2024

Why Pollard was chosen ahead of Dweba to replace injured Marx

BORDEAUX, FRANCE –  As expected South Africa have confirmed fly-half Handre Pollard will replace Malcolm Marx in their squad for Rugby World Cup 2023.

This comes after arguably the worlds best hooker was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.

Marx suffered a “long-term” knee injury in training on Wednesday, and on Sunday – following their 76-0 victory against Romania – the Springboks announced Leicester Tigers fly-half Pollard as his replacement.

Pollard, who kicked 22 points when South Africa beat England 32-12 in the final of Rugby World Cup 2019, missed out on Bok coach Jacques Nienaber’s initial squad due to injury.

Explaining the decision to call up Pollard rather than a forward, Nienaber said: “We are confident with the cover we have at hooker with Bongi Mbonambi and Deon Fourie, and Marco van Staden has been slotting in the position since our alignment camps in February, so we opted to call up Handre, who has been in our system for years and who was a member of our team in 2019 when we won the World Cup.

“He’s been working hard to return to full fitness, and we are pleased that he now has some game time under his belt for his club, and this will allow him to slot back into the team,” said Nienaber.

“We’ll work closely with him in the next week to get him back up to speed and back into the full swing of things, and we have no doubt he’ll step up to the challenge. He’s been here before so he knows the physical and mental demands of the World Cup.”

Marx was named as one of two specialist hookers along with Mbongeni Mbonambi in the original squad, with the versatile Fourie – who also plays in the back-row – providing cover off the bench for their match against Romania in Bordeaux.

The defending champions beat Scotland 18-3 in their opening Pool B match in Marseille, and following Sunday’s win against Romania, have Ireland (23 September) and Tonga (1 October) as their remaining fixtures in the group stage.

Marx was one of 21 players with previous Rugby World Cup experience named in the original squad, nine of whom are appearing at their third tournament.

Twelve players – Ox Nche, Jean Kleyn, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Jasper Wiese, Deon Fourie, Jaden Hendrikse, Grant Williams, Manie Libbok, Andre Esterhuizen, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie – are featuring at their first Rugby World Cup.

SOURCE: World Rugby

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