Bok hooker Malcolm Marx, who was not able to catch a flight back to South Africa before the lockdown began, is trying to make the most of a challenging time in Japan.
Marx has been a revelation for his Japanese club, the Shining Arcs, since joining them at the end of 2019 and scored five tries in their last four games before the season was halted due to Covid-19.
South Africans with Marx there in Japan in the colours of the Arcs were former Lions teammates Sylvian Mahuza and Robert Kruger as well as Willie Britz and coach Hugh Reece-Edwards.
Marx was not able to catch a flight back to South Africa before the lockdown occurred. Others currently still stuck with him are RG Snyman, Damian de Allende, Matthys Basson, Lionel Cronje, Jean Droste and Jason Jenkins.
‘Luckily there are still some South Africans here with me. It helps quite a bit to have each other here, it’s quite nice,’ Marx told the Lions website from his home in Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture, in the Kanto region.
The situation in Japan is much worse than here in South Africa, and they have urged their citizens this week to stay home as media reports warned that as many as 400,000 of them could die of the coronavirus without urgent action.
Japan, which tests only people with symptoms of the coronavirus, has so far recorded more than 8,000 infections with nearly 200 deaths.
We asked Marx how he was coping: ‘We are doing all right and still able to go to the gym which helps to stay in shape and as fit as possible. Everyone is still very cautious and doing everything that is needed.
‘It helps that we can still go to the gym, but to be honest the fitness you do in the gym is very different to what you do on the rugby field.’
Marx said the rugby experience is Japan has been everything that he expected it to be.
‘I played two warm-up games before the league started and we had six league matches. It was an experience to see what the Japanese style of rugby is. All the games were very tough and I learned quite a bit about Japanese rugby,’ Marx explained.
While settling in well in Japan, the burly hooker admits that the typical South African braai was at the top of his list of things he misses the most.
‘To be honest, having meat off the braai and South African food are the things I definitely miss. And obviously being away from the family, I miss the family and friends.
‘I am keen to get back to South Africa and join the Lions family again. Hopefully we can start training soon and back into games. I really missed my Lions family very much.’