More Manie Libbok mojo for Springboks

FILE - Springboks player Manie Libbok speaks to the media during a press conference. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

FILE - Springboks player Manie Libbok speaks to the media during a press conference. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 23, 2023


Manie Libbok’s shares on the Springbok stock market continue to rise, and Saturday’s Rugby Championship finale against Argentina gives him a golden opportunity to nail down his place as either the starting flyhalf at the World Cup or the back-up to Handré Pollard.

Pollard is notoriously injury-prone, and even if his current injury heals before France 2023, there is certainly no guarantee of him getting through the six weeks unscathed.

In 2022, we saw the Bok bosses looking seriously at Damian Willemse as a starting flyhalf option, but he is too erratic at No 10.

And his performance in that position in Auckland last week has surely convinced Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus that fullback is where he chiefly belongs.

At the World Cup, we will likely see Pollard or Libbok as the main flyhalves, with Willemse starting at No 15 and the versatile Willie le Roux playing off the bench.

Nienaber said this week that he is hoping to have Pollard and Siya Kolisi in action for the warm-up match against Wales on August 19.

Before that game in Cardiff is Saturday’s Championship match against Argentina at Ellis Park (5.05 pm kick-off), plus an away friendly against the same team in Buenos Aires the following Saturday.

Libbok will feature prominently in these games as Nienaber grows the 26-year-old’s experience at the international level.

The Stormers star was blooded on the November tour last year, and currently has had four cameos off the bench and just one start – the Bok rout of the Wallabies on July 8.

Libbok feels that he is becoming more comfortable in the Bok jersey with each minute he plays.

“My debut was off the bench against France last year, and I was very nervous and unsure of myself … I did not know what to expect,” he said this week.

“This time around, I know the Springbok environment a lot better. I have got to know the coaches, and they have got to know me. I have got to know the players better. It is much easier this time.”

Libbok added that on the end-ofyear tour, the coaches explained his deficiencies to him, and he had help ironing them out at the Stormers and in the Bok training camps held this year.

“The big thing I have worked on is my kicking. I have improved my kick-pass and my up-and-unders,” he explained.

“Kicking for territory or to reclaim the ball is a big part of the Bok game plan, and I wasn’t up to scratch in this department. I wasn’t accurate enough.”

Against Australia three weeks ago, Libbok missed his first exit, but then settled down to have a cracker of a match in all departments.

“This Saturday’s game is massive for us. Argentina brings a different challenge. We are working hard not only for the result, but to produce a performance we are proud of. That will take care of the result.”

IOL Sport