Piling even more pressure on Manie
Bringing Handré Pollard in to take care of the Springboks’ weakness at kicking for posts may or may not be a good thing. And what it will do to Manie Libbok’s game is anybody’s guess.
It’s one of those peculiarities of rugby that points lost through missed kicks are automatically added up. In the match against Scotland, as the expression goes “Libbok left 11 points out on the field”, and it’s true. He did.
But, while everybody in the rugby world is amazed at his “no-look” kick pass, nobody adds the five points for Arendse’s try that resulted from the kick to his “net” gains.
Nick Mallett, speaking on SuperSport during the game against Romania, said: “If you don’t have a flyhalf who can kick penalties then you kick the difficult penalties to the corner for the lineout.”
South Africa, everybody agrees, has probably the best forward pack in the World Cup. Why not go to the corners for the attacking lineout? Why not take the scrum if the kick is marginal?
John Smit spoke about the loss of confidence that Libbok might experience as a result of the return of Pollard.
“You don’t know how it might affect Libbok and it could affect his game,” said Smit.
The SuperSport studio during a test match is not the time and place to come right out and criticise the decision, but they came close.
“Now we’ll go back to scoring penalties and stop scoring tries,” said a disappointed Libbok fan in the pub, and he may be right.
Manie Libbok’s history as a rugby player is well-known. The youngster from Humansdorp had a less than happy time at the Sharks before he went to Western Province.
Under the guidance of John Dobson, he flourished to such an extent that he was included in the Springbok squad where Rassie and Nienaber took him to an even higher level. He is now as good an attacking flyhalf as the Springboks have ever had.
Poor old Ian Foster got fired at the All Blacks in favour of Scott Robertson, except Foster was told to take the team to the World Cup. What has it done for his confidence that he was told he wasn’t their first choice, and how has that affected the All Blacks performance?
Without a doubt, Libbok is a confidence player. The dark cloud of the returning Pollard has been hanging over him since the tournament began. How can it not have an impact on his performance?
It is foolish to criticise Rassie and Nienaber. Their decision-making has brought South Africa to a stage where only the most stubborn of observers will discount the Springboks as potential World Cup winners.
And they have decided to replace Malcolm Marx, possibly the best hooker in the world, with utility forwards. Both Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden are exceptional loose forwards in any company, but Fourie hasn’t played hooker for a long time and Van Staden is new to the role.
Watching them play against Romania, they were not instantly successful.
It would be so sad to see South Africa going back to the conservative, defensive style that characterised their performance in the 2019 World Cup. But that being said, they won the Cup in magnificent style.
Let’s hope, the coaching staff have got it right once again – just like they have throughout the Springboks’ World Cup campaign.
Pictured above: Manie Libbok
Image source: Springboks