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'He knows it, we know it, everyone knows it': Erasmus doesn't hide from Libbok problem

By Ben Smith
Manie Libbok of South Africa looks on as he walks out of the tunnel prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France on September 23, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Springboks Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus isn’t shying away from the goal-kicking issue that plagued South Africa in the 13-8 loss to Ireland.

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Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk missed two attempts over 50 metres out while flyhalf Mannie Libbok finished one from three after missing the conversion on Cheslin Kolbe’s try and a mid-range penalty from the angle.

In the wake of the close loss Libbok’s performance has been put under the spotlight and calls for returning flyhalf Handre Pollard to take over have grown louder.

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Erasmus said Libbok is “clearly in trouble” with his goal kicking which “everyone knows about”.

“If you look at everything Manie can do… it’s a bit like Deon Fourie’s sideline throws,” Erasmus said.

“I think out of four touches he failed to throw a straight one, but the scrums went very well.

“Manie is clearly in trouble with his kicks on goal. He knows it, we know it, everyone knows it, everyone only talks about it.

“When Faf [de Klerk] went for a 55-yard penalty, he hit the post and it almost led to a try from us. Faf is very good on goal kicks, but he won’t always be on the pitch.

The former head coach confirmed that Pollard will play the next game against Tonga but reiterated that it is a slow process to get him back up to speed.

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Erasmus said his performance will dictate who gets the nod for a potential quarter-final.

“Handre will play this weekend, but we will first look at how he behaves in the game. How will he do on contacts?” he said.

“In addition, it will probably take him a little time to get back into the rhythm of his kicking game under pressure.

“The match against Tonga will be an excellent test for him, it will allow him to see where he is before considering the quarter-finals, if we go there, and deciding who will be on the field.

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“At the open, Manie is playing some excellent rugby at the moment, but the same cannot be said for his goal kicking.”

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With the loss South Africa are in line to play Pool A leaders France, but Erasmus wouldn’t be drawn into speculation how things would play out with Scotland still to play Ireland in Pool B.

He said the squad was just focused on getting out of the group and would “let fate decide” who they would play if that goal was achieved.

“We know it’s going to be difficult against Tonga, just like it’s going to be difficult for Ireland against Scotland, and that’s what will probably determine the group ranking,” he explained.

“Against Scotland, I was sure it would be a trap match, and that risks being the case for Ireland, and for us against Tonga.

“The important thing is to get out of the group. In my opinion, it would be a bit presumptuous to say whether we prefer to face France or New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

“We will let fate decide, because they are two formidable opponents.”

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Comments

4 Comments
R
Robert 299 days ago

Agree, Manie is an awesome player! yes he has flaws, so does other people.
i still think, drop DDA, Poly as 12 with CM at 13 along with Manie at 10.

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