Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

‘Manie is great at so many things,’ says Kolisi ahead of Boks-Irish clash

Despite being relatively new to the Bok setup, Libbok has just as much say in the dressing room as everyone else, according to Kolisi.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has full faith in flyhalf Manie Libbok to produce the goods when the Boks take on Ireland in their massive Rugby World Cup pool match at the Stade de France on Saturday night.

Much has been said about the inconsistent goal kicking of Libbok and whether it would cost the Boks in a close match, however Kolisi claims that isn’t something they worry about and that they back him all the way.

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“I don’t have to manage that (the kicking). He (Libbok) makes decisions, he says, ‘I’ve got it’. If he misses, he’ll still say ‘I’ve got it’ and if it isn’t working then Faf (de Klerk) goes and kicks for posts,” explained Kolisi.

“Everybody thinks I make these big decisions, everybody is leaders in different things. All I have to worry about is talking to the ref and seeing if things are going well. That is my role.

“The kicking, I have no say in that. I have to respect what Faf thinks, what Manie thinks. No matter what Manie is going through with his kicking, if he tells me ‘I’ve got this’, unless we feel we have got momentum and we want to go for more, but I don’t even think about what could go wrong.”

Relatively new

Despite being relatively new to the Bok setup, having made his debut on the end-of-year-tour last year, Libbok has just as much say in the dressing room as everyone else, according to Kolisi.

“We don’t want Manie sitting and stressing about it, he has so many great things. The way he controls us, the first time he came (into the team) I had a conversation with him,” said Kolisi.

“I said, ‘Manie, the same as you do at the Stormers, when you speak we will all shut up. I don’t care that you don’t have any caps, you are the man. When we are playing and you are calling the moves we will keep quiet and we will listen to you’.”

Libbok is facing arguably his biggest test this weekend, fronting up against Ireland’s most experienced player and captain Johnny Sexton, who will be on a high after becoming their record points scorer in their past weekend’s win over Tonga.

Sexton effect

Kolisi is well aware of the impact Sexton has on Ireland and how he helps them lift their game against the best teams.

“I think he is a great leader for Ireland. He is also an amazing player and an important player for them. You can see when he is there they are a completely different team,” said Kolisi.

“I think he is a very special person for the Irish team and everything he has achieved, going to top points scorer, you can see what it means.

“For him to be doing it at his age is remarkable. I would love to still be playing at 38, in a World Cup too. He is a huge player, you can see they take huge confidence from him.”

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