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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Stormers opt to rest star playmaker Manie Libbok ahead of URC playoffs

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Cape Town – Manie Libbok will not be terrorising the Bulls in two weeks’ time with the Stormers pivot set for an extended resting period ahead of the play-offs of the United Rugby Championship (URC).

He’s been a vital cog in the Capetonians’ devastating attack but will be used sparingly over the next couple of weeks, while some of the top Springboks are also on their enforced rest period.

This will also allow the defending URC champions to test their depth at flyhalf as this is the one position in the backline where they’ve been struggling when Libbok is not on the field.

They desperately need someone who can make the step up when he is unavailable.

Jean-Luc du Plessis and youngster Kade Wolhuter are set to battle it out for the No 10 jersey ahead of the Bulls clash, with the former having the inside lane.

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Libbok was instrumental in the slaughter of the Sharks on Saturday when he scored a try, created a couple of brilliant line-breaks in the lead-up to other tries, and kicked 14 points off the tee.

He’s currently the top points scorer in the URC with 102 points.

Coach John Dobson said they will seriously be looking at resting their star man.

“He was supposed to rest this week (ahead of the Sharks) but there were some problems with Jean-Luc,” Dobson said.

“We need to build more depth at 10, we can’t rely on him all the time. I’m excited with what Jean-Luc and Kade can do, they all play a similar sort of game.”

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Du Plessis left the field against Ulster with a concussion and will be available for the Bulls game after following return-to-play protocols.

He’s been good for the Stormers since his return from Japan and Dobson will be keen to get him playing again.

Dobson added that they want to give a player like Libbok every chance to make the national side and have to bear in mind his playing time with the Stormers still contesting for the Heineken Champions Cup as well.

“We want to give the team the best chance in the URC and EPCR. But we also want to give Manie the chance to make the Springboks, so he’s a guy we’ll have a chat about over the next week.”

The Stormers will have a week’s break before they travel to Loftus Versfeld.

Dobson confirmed he will be mixing his squad with a blend of youngsters and experience when they go up to Pretoria.

He still wants to see the northsouth derby contested by two strong teams, but some of his star players will most likely get a rest ahead of the trip up north.


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