Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

‘I start back at zero’ – URC Player of Season Manie Libbok

Libbok will be hoping for another successful season at both international and franchise level this year.

It has been a brilliant past few years for Stormers star Manie Libbok who, after struggling early in his career found a home at the Cape side, won the United Rugby Championship (URC) with them, became a Springbok and is now a Rugby World Cup winner.

Last week Libbok added to his growing list of achievements when he was named South African URC Player of the Season, for the 2022-23 campaign, at the SA Rugby Awards held in Johannesburg.

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To have enjoyed such a meteoric rise over the past few seasons must make it tough to keep his feet on the ground, but Libbok explained that his secret to success was re-setting at the end of every season.

“It is a massive honour for me to receive that award. There are so many quality players within our country and we compete against the best of the best. So for me to receive this award is truly special and I am very honoured,” said Libbok.

“After achieving my goals at the end of a season, when I get ready for the next season I start back at zero. I lay out my goals for the season and year ahead and then I keep my head down and work hard towards those goals.

“We can set goals for ourselves but we know they won’t be achieved if we don’t work hard towards them. So coming off the back of those achievements, I tell myself to go and start back at zero, build myself back up from there and work towards what I want to achieve in the next season.”

Successful season

Libbok will be hoping for another successful season at both international and franchise level, but his first aim will be to try to help the Stormers finish in the URC top eight to make the knockouts, and also progress as far as they can in the Champions Cup.

“It’s a tough phase of games coming up now. We are currently ninth on the (URC) log, so every game is important and every game we have to win,” explained Libbok.

“But for us as a group we are focusing on one game at a time to try and achieve or goals week in and week out in order to give ourselves the best opportunity to get to that position in the top eight.

“So we are focusing on the processes, taking it day by day, week by week and game by game to get through this end of season run.”

The Stormers kick off their end of season run-in with home URC games against Edinburgh and Ulster, before taking on double defending champs La Rochelle in a massive Champions Cup last 16 encounter in Cape Town.