Springboks Libbok flyhalf

South Africa’s flyhalf Manie Libbok kicks at goal. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Nienaber: Dropping a player like Libbok for final was heartbreaking

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has opened up about how difficult it was to drop someone like Manie Libbok for the World Cup final.

Springboks Libbok flyhalf

South Africa’s flyhalf Manie Libbok kicks at goal. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

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.

WATCH: Springboks’ ‘Chasing the Sun 2’ doccie confirmed!

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.

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.

ALSO READ | Good news: Here is who will coach the Springboks next!

Unlucky situation for Libbok

Furthermore, with the Springboks going for a 7-1 split on the bench, there wasn’t even a spot on the bench for Libbok in the final – and 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).”

ALSO READ | Etzebeth celebrates World Cup, ‘baby reveal’ and birthday in 48 hours

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.”

ALSO READ: “Our country goes through so much and we are the hope” – Kolisi

WATCH: Rassie Erasmus was all of us as tears flowed at full-time

ALSO READ | Bok videos: Players sing to Rassie, Bongi reminds ‘ons is die kant’