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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Manie Libbok brushes off kicking criticism: ‘I am trying to get it right’

The Springbok flyhalf is also pleased Handre Pollard is back in the squad.

Springbok flyhalf Manie Libbok says he’s paying no attention to the media criticism regarding his goal-kicking at the Rugby World Cup in France.

Libbok, who has been the first-choice flyhalf this year, has excelled in other aspects of his game but has fallen short with kicking for the posts. This has been met with concerns from the media and the public in general because the missed kicks have cost the Boks valuable points — none more so than in the pool match against Ireland when Libbok and Faf de Klerk both missed two shots at goal in the 13-8 loss.

To his credit, amidst the pressure, Libbok has knuckled down and paid no mind to the press criticism.

‘Trying to get it right’

“I don’t watch what is going on in the media,” Libbok told the media on Monday.

“I know what criticism is out there when it comes to my kicking, but for me I am focusing on myself. I am focusing on getting it right; it is something I have to get right especially at this level where the margins are so small. I am just working hard and trying to get it right,” he said.

Acknowledging that Libbok’s kicking for goal has not been up to the required standards, the Boks’ management roped in backline general Handre Pollard as a form of security.

In the last Pool B outing against Tonga, Pollard started with Libbok coming off the bench; the pair slotting four and three kicks respectively, without missing.

‘Work together’

The return of Pollard to the squad as an injury replacement to hooker Malcolm Marx put the public at ease and helped Libbok pick up confidence and remove the weight on his shoulders.

“First and foremost it is nice to have Handre back in the camp,” Libbok said.

“He and I work nicely together, we pick each other up. It’s awesome to work with him,” said Libbok.

“It doesn’t matter who is going to start. If he is going to play, if I am going to play. I know he’ll do a good job, a great job. He is a world-class player; he has been there and done that so for me it’s awesome to have him back in the camp. He helps me a lot and we work nicely together,” he said.

The Springboks are preparing for a quarter-final showdown against France on Sunday in Paris. The world champions will announce the team that will do battle against the hosts on Friday morning.

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