Springboks flyhalves Handre Pollard and Manie Libbok Image: X /@sport_wordsmith

Handre Pollard and Manie Libbok
Image: X /@sport_wordsmith

Pollard offers Libbok high praise: He adds dynamism to Boks!

Handre Pollard believes Manie Libbok will continue to play a crucial role for the Springboks in the coming years.

Springboks flyhalves Handre Pollard and Manie Libbok Image: X /@sport_wordsmith

Handre Pollard and Manie Libbok
Image: X /@sport_wordsmith

In the original Springboks World Cup squad, Manie Libbok was selected as the only specialist flyhalf, with Handre Pollard initially missing out on selection due to an injury.

However, when Malcolm Marx suffered a tournament-ending injury, the Boks made the bold call of recalling Pollard, which ultimately paid off in the long run.

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Libbok started in four games at the World Cup, including the quarter-final and semi-final, but when it came to the title decider, Bok coach Jacques Nienaber and his colleagues felt Pollard was the best man for the occasion and conditions.

With the dust having settled since the Springboks’ memorable triumph in France, Pollard has shared some special praise for Libbok.

“I can’t praise Manie enough for the way he’s playing and handling the pressure,” said Pollard.

“He’s a humble guy and works extremely hard, and he works for the team. He’s got a lovely dynamic way of playing towards us as a team, that’s a lovely thing and something that we’ve all embraced and enjoyed as well. Whatever our roles are for myself or him wherever we play it’s all towards the team and what we can do best for them.”

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Unlucky situation for Libbok

With the Springboks going for a 7-1 split on the bench for final, there wasn’t even a spot on the bench for Libbok in the final – and coach Jacques Nienaber has admitted it was heartbreaking to make such an omission.

“It breaks your heart as a coach,” said the outgoing coach, who is heading to Ireland to join top club Leinster. “That, for me, moving from an assistant coach to a head coach, is the worst part of the job – to tell players you are not selected.

“I believe he has the ability to be the future (for the Springboks), if you think about how excellent he was,” Nienaber added. “Him and Damian Willemse, since Handré (Pollard) got injured in Adelaide (have been excellent).”

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Why Boks opted for that selection mix

Nienaber ultimately explained how the players put the team first and took any personal disappointments in their stride.

“There are a lot of factors that we calculate when we do selections. And the analysis we did on New Zealand, we believed a 7-1 was the way to go … and they had to miss out,” he said.

“But they took it like men and no egos. Yes, they were heartbroken – and they should be, because it’s such an honour and they were good enough to play in the final.

“As were André Esterhuizen and Canan Moodie, if you think about how they played against New Zealand the previous time.

“That is the beauty of this squad. Everybody was good from a performance level to play, but unfortunately, that is the way we make decisions.

“The players are big enough to take it like that.”

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