Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
29 May 2019
12:40 pm

The Bulls are right in trusting Manie Libbok’s ability to bounce back

Heinz Schenk

The young, diminutive flyhalf has shown previously that he enjoys intimidating atmospheres.

Manie Libbok of the Bulls converts a try during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Bulls at GIO Stadium on May 24, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

Eden Park in Auckland might not quite be Newlands in Cape Town, but the Bulls are banking on Manie Libbok to continue a habit of delivering fine performances in intimidating atmospheres.

The 21-year-old didn’t exactly cover himself in glory during last week’s loss to the Brumbies in Canberra, his first game since replacing Handre Pollard in the No 10 jersey, who won’t feature again on tour due to a calf injury.

However, coach Pote Human is banking on Libbok’s documented ability to bounce back quickly from setbacks in Friday’s meeting with the Blues in Auckland.

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Last season, the diminutive flyhalf endured the embarrassment of being substituted within the first 20 minutes of their final Currie Cup round robin match against Western Province at Loftus.

He twice dropped the ball in dangerous positions, one leading to an early penalty and the other leading to a disallowed Province try after he fumbled behind his tryline.

Yet Human backed Libbok for the next week’s semifinal in Cape Town, where he delivered a superb performance in a thrilling game that was decided after extra-time.

“It was the first time in a long while that he started a game last week,” said the Bulls coach from Auckland on Wednesday.

“As was the case in the Currie Cup, he’ll be better the more he plays. I’m banking on him playing with confidence. Manie’s teammates have a lot of faith in him and I can assure you that the coaching staff rate him highly too.

“When he’s on song, he’s a dangerous, brilliant player.”

While Libbok should be able to lean on stand-in skipper Burger Odendaal to cushion him from having to make all the playmaking decisions, he’ll have to be accurate off the kicking tee, especially if conditions prove wet.

He and JT Jackson, who is on the bench, are the only recognised kickers in the match squad.

“JT’s kicked really well in the SuperSport Challenge and is working really hard weekly on that aspect of his game,” said Human.

“He’s always on the field practising his kicking. If he has to come on during the game, I’d be more than comfortable with him taking the kicks at goal.”

Bulls: Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (c), Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan va Zyl, Paul Schoeman, Hanro Liebenberg, Marco van Staden, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Schalk Brits, Lizo Gqoboka. Bench: Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima, Wiehahn Herbst, Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, Andre Warner, JT Jackson, Divan Rossouw.