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Thursday, November 30, 2023

‘We work together in everything …’ Manie Libbok praises Handre Pollard’s Springboks impact

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Manie Libbok was falling off his kicks and pulled the ball left when kicking toward the posts but a slight tweak in his kicking helped the Springbok pivot to fix this error and produce a brilliant overall performance off the bench this past weekend against Tonga.

And after slotting three-from-three alongside Handre Pollard’s four successful conversions, Bok supporters have renewed faith in the team’s kicking as South Africa prepares for a possible quarter-final next weekend.

Against Ireland – in a 13-8 loss the Springboks left 11 points on the field from missing kicks but since Libbok fixed his error and Pollard came in, they slotted all their shots at goal in a 49-18 win over Tonga this past weekend.

Libbok said it was never the shot clock that bothered him, unlike the suggestions from some people. He still had the same routine.

“I fell off my kicks, that’s why I pulled most of them, I worked on that and I’m just happy that it came off,” Libbok said of slotting all his kicks.

“I kicked the same, I didn’t change anything in terms of speeding up my process. Handre also kicked very well.

“We work together in everything. Handre is a world-class flyhalf and player. I’ve learned a lot from him. He helped me a lot in terms of the game itself.

“For me, it’s nice to work with him and (to) learn from the best.”

For Pollard, the physical challenge from Tonga was just what he needed after a long Test-match lay-off.

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He passed with flying colours; he was the recipient of some hard hits and made some strong tackles and carries.

But nailing that difficult kick close to the touchline after scrumhalf Cobus Reinach’s opening score reminded the world of his talents.

“We joked in the week about it, my first kick is probably going to be in the corner and it was!

“You follow your normal routine, you do your thing,” said Pollard about slotting the conversion from a difficult angle.

“It has been a crazy rollercoaster. There have been extreme lows, of course, early on and extreme highs to get recalled, so really just great to be back in the environment with the boys. Hopefully contribute as much as I can in whatever role that may be, I am just here to help the team succeed, and I am excited.”

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But, even after playing his first match of the 2023 World Cup, Pollard knows that it also could possibly have been his final one.

There is a slight chance that the Boks could be knocked out should Scotland achieve a bonus-point victory over Ireland in their final Pool B clash this Saturday.

“I enjoyed it very much, it was so much fun,” he added about his first Test in a year.

“Just on a personal note it was nice to play again and I enjoyed myself out there.

“We (now) have just got to wait and see what happens next. It’s out of our hands. We have got to prepare for whoever we play; if we don’t play, that is how the game goes.“


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