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  • Libbok the shining light on Springboks tour from hell

    Libbok the shining light on Springboks tour from hell

    It should come as no surprise that flyhalf Manie Libbok is the biggest winner in the Springboks end-of-year touring squad.

    It wasn’t too long ago that the Springboks were facing a flyhalf crisis, which threaten to reveal the team’s soft underbelly in that pivotal position.

    WATCH | THE SOUTH AFRICAN ANTHEM BOTCHED!

    One by one, the Springboks’ No 10s fell by the wayside, albeit for different reasons. The two primary flyhalves, Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies, had been struggling for form but coach Jacques Nienaber stuck with the pair.

    No sooner had Jantjies’ love affair with team dietician Zeenat Simjee been exposed and he was released from the squad. That left Pollard, with Damian Willemse serving as his deputy. In a cruel twist of fate, Pollard and Willemse sustained injuries on consecutive weekends in the two away Rugby Championship games against the Wallabies.

    This forced Nienaber to pick veteran Frans Steyn as playmaker in the Test against Argentina. Despite his long and illustrious career, this was Steyn’s first-ever Test start at flyhalf and it did not go as well as he nor Nienaber would have wanted.

    Willemse has since recovered and filled in admirably at flyhalf throughout the end-of-year tour, but it has to said that Nienaber didn’t let a good crisis go to waste.

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    Libbok answers Springboks call

    Libbok and Stormers teammate Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu were the only two uncapped players in the Springboks squad for the November Tests in Europe, but while the latter was asked to do duty for South Africa ‘A’, Libbok remained with the Boks.

    After the defeats against Ireland and France, a host of changes were made to the team to face Italy and the inclusion of Libbok on the bench was one of them.

    It’s worth remembering that, by this stage, Cheslin Kolbe and even Faf de Klerk, were used as the Springboks’ primary goal kickers because of Willemse’s kicking struggles.

    So when Kolbe went down injured shortly after the second half, Springboks coaches, players and fans alike, could be forgiven for holding their collective breath at the sight of him limping off.

    ALSO READ | SPRINGBOKS V ENGLAND: CHESLIN KOLBE OUT OF TWICKENHAM TEST

    As it were, the injury was a blessing in disguise. Libbok’s debut was expedited to the 44th minute and he produced one of the most dazzling playmaking performances in the Boks’ recent history. It help his cause that he was also flawless off the kicking tee.

    ALSO READ | SPRINGBOKS STAY FOURTH IN WORLD RUGBY RANKINGS AFTER ITALY WIN

    It was the perfect audition for more game-time in the No 10 jersey. And with reports suggesting Damian de Allende will miss the last game of the year, Willemse will shift to inside centre, meaning Libbok is in line to earn his first Test start against an in form England at at a hostile Twickenham.

    The stage is set for Libbok. But irrespective of what happens from here on out, he will return home as the biggest winner from this disastrous tour and his seamless transition into the Test fold has undoubtedly answered a few lingering questions for Nienaber.

    With several changes sure to be made to the Bok squad, it’s expected that the team will be released at 1:45pm SA time on Tuesday (*make sure you keep your eyes peeled on The South African to catch all the team news as it is announced).

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    View the full article


    Khamisi
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