When one takes stock of Malcolm Marx’s 2018 season, it’s pretty remarkable that he was nominated for World Rugby’s player-of-the-year award.
Because, in all honesty, that nomination was based purely on Super Rugby form and a Rugby Championship campaign.
The influential Springbok hooker missed the June series against England through injury and the shortlist for the prestigious award was announced before the year-end tour to Europe.
Given how limited the sample of performances was, Marx clearly made a dramatic impact when he was on the field.
“It’s been a good year, but it was humbling just to be there. Not everybody gets nominated and I was fortunate enough to be in the mix,” the 24-year-old told Rugby Pass.
“It was just an honour and humbling to be there. There’s not one negative about it.”
Marx is known as a reserved, humble man and thus his reaction isn’t surprising.
Yet one can’t help but wonder whether his comments are also partly down to the fact that he didn’t have a particularly prosperous tour to Europe.
At times it seemed as if the World Rugby nomination was a bit of a curse, with his nightmare in the lineouts against England at Twickenham in particular drawing much criticism.
That set the tone for the next three weeks, where Marx concentrated on the basics instead of the being the all-action hero people have become accustomed to see.
“It’s tough, but first I’ve got to look at myself and obviously that was all my fault, throwing over the jumpers,” Marx said of that fateful day in London.
“It’s hard to adjust in-game and I felt like I was going well at the lineout aside from that, but those three lineouts could have won us the game. There’s no excuse from me, I’ve got a job to do and obviously that part of the job I didn’t do to the best of my ability.”
Springbok forwards coach Matt Proudfoot has previously mentioned Marx’s work ethic and the player himself confirms it.
“You can never train enough. I can’t really blame anybody else and I’ve got to look at myself first, because it was entirely my fault,” said Marx.
However, Proudfoot also revealed that the Lions star perhaps puts too much pressure on himself.
“I can tell you those (high) goals sometimes makes him focus too much on one or two mistakes he might make in training,” he said during the Rugby Champs.
Hopefully, Marx uses that attitude to reach greater heights … instead of losing his identity.