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'When have you last seen a South African 10 like that?': Exciting Stormers flyhalf hailed

By Sam Smith
(Photo By Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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South Africa’s teams completed a four from four sweep of their European rivals in the latest round of the United Rugby Championship, with Welsh, Scottish and Irish teams all falling to defeat in their fixtures.

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Ospreys, who were fielding a strong side full of Welsh internationals, were dismantled in Cape Town by a slick Stormers outfit by 29-13. The ball skills of Stormers players were on show as left wing Leolin Zas scored a brace, including a brilliant chip chase recovery in the second half.

Former Welsh international Tom Shanklin said the South African Sevens programme has played a part in developing attacking players with serious speed for the South African teams, including the likes of Seabelo Senatla who was on the right wing against Ospreys.

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“I think the South African Sevens plays a massive part,” Tom Shanklin said of the Stormers’ threats on Premier Sports post-match wrap.

“A lot of Sevens players in that back line. Especially the back three players, they don’t need much space to finish off tries, they know how to beat defenders one-on-one and they can finish from wherever, really.”

The Stormers outside backs included current Springbok Damian Willemse at fullback, flanked by Zas and Senatla on the wings. Former Blue Bulls product Manie Libbok impressed at flyhalf pulling the strings for the Cape side.

Libbok’s performance was dynamic, breaking open Ospreys twice in the first half against seemingly short odds. He used footwork to slip past three Ospreys defenders before drawing the fullback to put scrumhalf Paul De Wet under the posts for the opening try and almost repeated the same outcome a second time half an hour into the game.

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The talented 24-year-old has bounced around three South African clubs, coming through the Bulls academy system before spending two seasons at the Sharks behind Curwin Bosch. He is starting to hit his stride after moving to the Stormers last year.

When asked whether he would be a future Springbok, Shanklin believed so based on what they had just witnessed.

“I think so. Just the way he attacks the line, his footwork, he scares defences as well,” Shanklin praised.

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“He only needs a half a gap to get through, he’s got pace and acceleration so when the space opens up, he can go through.

“You just can’t lay a hand on him because he has that pace.”

Welsh rugby commentator Sean Holley said it was ‘very rare’ to see a South African flyhalf play the way Libbok has been, offering an attacking game that has been missing from the national side for some years.

“When have you last seen a South African 10 like that? It’s very rare, isn’t it? ” Holley asked of Shanklin.

“They like to sit in the pocket and send the ball up, and that sorta suits the way South Africa want to play, but with a guy like this, if you get him involved with the Springboks, all of a sudden, you’ve got a different outlook for how South Africa might play,” Shanklin replied.

“They might play more width, they might be more creative.”

“I agree, we might see him in the Summer,” Holley concluded, referring to Wales’ upcoming three test tour of South Africa.

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