Manie Libbok snapped up Man of the Match this weekend in the Stormers win over the Ospreys in Cape Town. It isn't only the past weekends performance however that deserves praise, as the player has had an outstanding 2022 season thus far. Having bounced around from franchise to franchise, Libbok has settled in at the DHL Stormers and with the backing of his coaches, has become SA's premier flyhalf domestically.
With all the Sharks short comings in the flyhalf berth, they should feel rather stupid by the fact that Manie was on their books this time last year, and they let him go in favor of the struggling Curwin Bosch. For all they have gotten right in their big recruitment drive of late, this is one example of how they have gotten it wrong. Libbok also had a stint with the Blue Bulls, playing most of his junior rugby for the Pretoria based franchise but at the young age of 24 and in the white and blue stripes of the Stormers, he has begun to realise his potential.
In this season of the URC, Libbok is the top points scorer (116) . He has made 422 running meters, a mere 4 behind Sharks try scoring machine, Makazole Mapimpi. However, what impresses me more, is that Libbok has made a telling 78 tackles, ranking slightly behind the Stormers locks for tackles made. Not often do you see the top points scorer, being relied on so heavily for defense.
Libbok's man of the match performance over the weekend against the Ospreys was just reward for a player that is to be credited for the Stormers powerful showing in 2022. Having settled in well, he is now using his tactical skills to release players like Leolin Zas out wide who are causing devastation with ball in hand. He will however have his work cut out for him this weekend as his side is set to face off with the Blue Bulls in a fixture that will likely settle the South African conference over all.
South African rugby currently boasts incredibly depth in almost every position there is, except for flyhalf. In our podcast a few weeks ago, I spoke of this issue and noted that Pollard is our 1st choice, after that we have an injured Elton Jantjies who is undergoing rehab for a shoulder injury in Cape Town and next was probably Morne Steyn, who retired from international rugby in 2021. Whilst this problem persists still, Manie has now got the opportunity to put his hand up for selection, he seems to have all the tools required to make the step up to test rugby and should his form continue into the play off stages, he should be selected.
I would love to see him start at 10 in the SA 'A' fixtures with progression to understudy to Pollard at this stage. Rassie has always said form must be rewarded and I would love to see that ring true here. Libbok deserves his shot and the Bokke desperately require depth at 10, so there really is only a win for both sides if he is selected.