Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Boks’ Libbok out to prove his worth against Ireland — and Sexton

With Handre Pollard back in the squad this is a wonderful opportunity for the Bok No 10 to show what he can do under pressure.

Springbok flyhalf Manie Libbok has a golden opportunity to make a massive statement when he fronts up against Ireland and their flyhalf general Johnny Sexton in their World Cup pool match at the Stade de France on Saturday night.

With World Cup winner Handre Pollard being called up into the squad as an injury replacement for Malcolm Marx, the Bok management are probably still not completely sold on Libbok being able to produce the goods under massive pressure once the competition reaches the knockout stage.

This weekend’s clash is thus the perfect opportunity for Libbok to prove that he can produce against the best teams under intense pressure.

Impressed against All Blacks

A few weeks ago Libbok impressed against the All Blacks with a flawless kicking performance and a strong all-round showing, while he was named man-of-the-match in the Boks’ opening World Cup win over Scotland.

So he has done it before and he will need to do it again against Ireland if he wants to push his case to be considered ahead of Pollard when it comes to crunch time.

“My whole game is going to be important, every part of it … if it is kicking for poles, if it is kicking out of hand, if it is my attacking with ball in hand. Every bit of it is going to be important,” said Libbok about what he needs to do against Ireland.

“I’m just working hard on my basic skills. Kicking for poles … I’ve put a lot of work in it to get it right.

“It’s going to be a massive game, it’s the World Cup. It’s the biggest stage in rugby. I’m just grateful to be in a position to go out there on Saturday and represent my country.”

Upstage Sexton

If Libbok can produce a performance that upstages Ireland captain Sexton, it should go a long way in instilling belief in the Bok management that he is the man for the job.

Pollard is likely to get the nod in the Boks’ final pool match against Tonga next week to make sure that he is match-ready for the knockouts, so this may be Libbok’s final chance to impress ahead of the quarterfinals.

“Johnny is a great player and he’s done amazing things for Ireland over the years. But for myself, it’s just focusing on myself and my game and preparing to the best of my ability to be ready to go on Saturday. I’m just looking forward to the challenge,” said Libbok.

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