JOHANNESBURG – Malcolm Marx admitted he was a man of few words, but said yesterday he would lead by example after taking over the Lions’ captaincy from the injured Warren Whiteley.
The 24-year-old Marx beat the likes of vice-captain Elton Jantjies, Kwagga Smith and Ross Cronje to the role, starting with tomorrow’s round three Super Rugby match against the Bulls at Ellis Park (kick-off 3pm). It will be Marx’s first stint as captain at senior level.
“I don’t talk much if I don’t have much to say,” said the Joburg born and bred hooker who was the 2017 SA Rugby Player of the Year.
“I like to lead by my actions. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words and playing the game is the most important thing.”
And doesn’t Marx play the game well? He has copped a lot of flak in the past for his line-out throwing, but this year has a 94 percent hit rate, while his ability to turn over ball at the breakdown is well known across the world. And let’s not forget his high tackle count and, most impressive, the 27 tries he’s scored for the Lions in Super Rugby from 56 games – the same number of tries scored by speedy backs Courtnall Skosan and Lionel Mapoe.
“I’m humbled and thankful for this opportunity. It’s obviously tough to follow in Wozza’s (Whiteley’s) footsteps; he’s probably one of best captains you’ll find, but it’s not only one guy that makes all the decisions. There are other leaders in our team and we work together.”
Jantjies, who’ll continue to run the back division and steer the play, said the decision to make Marx captain was the right one.
“It’s the right call… he’s got a similar demeanour to Warren in how he leads, but like he also said, leadership is about action. It’s a good opportunity for Malcolm now as well, to be challenged individually from another perspective in terms of growing. I’m excited to see him lead the team. I’m still there to run the team.”
Lions coach Swys de Bruin said that while his decision to appoint Marx as captain may not be the popular choice, it was the right decision, supported by the whole team.
“Malcolm has got all the accolades, he’s a wonderful team man, and it was a unanimous decision,” said De Bruin. “Elton (the official vice-captain) will continue as the general and make the calls.
They will take on the leadership of the team, but there are other men who are leaders in their positions, like Kwagga Smith, Dylan Smith, Lionel Mapoe and Courtnall Skosan.
“Malcolm has got the right aura. He’s a quiet guy, but the guys know him… he’s a server, a leader, a team man and a top player.”
Besides the change in captaincy, De Bruin has been forced to make a few other changes to his side for the match against the Bulls. Hacjivah Dayimani replaces the injured Whiteley at No 8, while rookie lock Rhyno Herbst gets a chance in the place of the injured Marvin Orie (groin). And at the back, Aphiwe Dyantyi is back in the starting team for Skosan.
Experienced scrumhalf Ross Cronje is also back in the Lions’ match-day 23.