The Springboks’ Mzwandile Stick acknowledged on Tuesday that Manie Libbok has impressed him, and by extension, the management of the national squad.
The United Rugby Championship’s previous two seasons have seen great success for the Stormers flyhalf, and many have urged the Bok think-tank to give the 25-year-old a call-up.
And as the Boks get ready for their End of Year Tour, there is a very real chance it might happen in the next week.
Damian Willemse will be the first choice flyhalf for the forthcoming Tests against Ireland, France, Italy, and England in November, according to head coach Jacques Nienaber, who spoke before the media with Stick and SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus on Tuesday. If he stays healthy, Johan Goosen has the inside track to second the No. 10 spot.
However, Libbok may be on tour supporting that pair and serving as a potential starter for SA ‘A’ against Munster and Bristol Bears during their respective tour fixtures.
Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn were not selected for the trip and Handre Pollard’s injury, all of which may have helped his prospects.
Therefore, Libbok and a group of up-and-coming pivots, according to Stick, who will coach the SA ‘A’ side, will provide for exciting times in the future.
Stick said, “I have known Libbok since I was coaching the Junior Boks when he played there, and I have worked with him. I understand his abilities.
“Seeing him now take on the leadership position in that Stormers squad when it comes to him (is pleasing). Rugby fans in South Africa have long known that Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies, who have consistently ranked in the Top 2, are available.
“Libbok, who is now playing his finest rugby, is here. These are the young players we are referring to when you look around our franchise rugby. Gianni Lombard and Jordan Hendrikse, both of the Lions, are fantastic examples.
“Sacha Mngomezulu is another player that plays for the Stormers. As SA rugby, I believe that we are now in a strong position as we see those young people gradually raising their hands.
Stick was also quick to refute the claim that Libbok would not fit into the current Bok lineup since his style and gameplan are radically different from those used by the senior men’s national team.
“We have never discussed his playing style or if it would fit our squad or culture.
“He is now playing terrific rugby. He is skilled at kicking the ball. The way he handled the circumstances in the Northern Hemisphere also impressed me.
Regarding Libbok’s drop goal try against The Ospreys this past weekend, Stick said, “One thing that I do admire, as a coach, is that he accepted the responsibility and made the choice. “Once again, I’m pleased with the developments in SA.
There is no way that Libbok won’t fit in with our group. Anything is possible if he plays as brilliantly as he does right now.