The Lions Super Rugby franchise have reportedly given up the battle to keep World Cup winning hooker Malcolm Marx. Marx, who played for the Shining Arcs in Japan since the World Cup last year, was one of several players who took the option to cancel their Lions contract under the terms of the controversial SA Rugby 21-day clause, a cost-cutting exercise aimed at saving money amid the Covid-19 crisis.

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Marx, Ruan Vermaak, Tyrone Green, Shaun Reynolds and Japan-bound assistant coach Neil de Bruin were all part of the Lions group that announced their departure last month. At the time Straeuli said he “wished them well” on their journey ahead.

However, in late May Straeuli confirmed they had not given up on convincing Marx to stay at Ellis Park. “There is a very real possibility that Malcolm will stay,” Straeuli said to rugby365.com. “We would like Malcolm to stay and he wants to stay. Both parties are working hard to resolve the matter.”

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Teen Lomu running wild in 1993

Straeuli wasn’t willing to divulge too much detail, but it’s believed the issue revolved around the legality of cancelling a contract that only takes effect on July 1. Marx was scheduled to return to the Lions from July until October and the Lions were looking at an extension.

“There are several options,” continued Straeuli. “We want to retain him [Marx] for SA rugby. We are trying to be flexible in our negotiations.”

However, it has now been confirmed by Rapport in South Africa that Marx will be leaving South Africa for now. It is understood the Lions were just not able to compete with the financial offer being made to the Springbok Number 2.

Marx however will be targeting a return to South Africa in 2021 in time to attempt to make the team that will face off against the British and Irish Lions.

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The 25-year-old has played 33 Tests for the Springboks since his debut against New Zealand in Christchurch in September 2016. He was a key member of the victorious World Cup campaign in Japan last year.

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