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#WATCH: Rassie unpacks Libbok omission

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springbok head coach Rassie Erasmus has revealed why he omitted flyhalf Manie Libbok from his matchday squad ahead of South Africa’s highly anticipated Test against Ireland on Saturday.


Erasmus has selected a very experienced squad for this Saturday’s showdown at Loftus Versfeld.

The squad features 20 World Cup winners and the starting line-up has a total Test caps of 966, the second most experienced team ever selected by South Africa after the 987-capped side for the World Cup Final last year.

It is the best squad currently at Erasmus’ disposal. However, the one significant feature is the absence of Libbok in the 23-man squad.

Libbok was the Springboks’ first-choice flyhalf at the start of the World Cup and played the quarterfinal and semifinal of last year’s showpiece, before the return of Handre Pollard.

The Leicester Tigers flyhalf eventually led the Springboks to back-to-back World Cups with his accurate kicking.

In contrast, Libbok’s goal-kicking has come under the spotlight with the flyhalf struggling to find his mojo in front of the poles.


He didn’t feature in Springboks’ 41-13 win over Wales two weeks ago at Twickenham, with the coaching team selecting debutants Jordan Hendrikse and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

The new attack coach Tony Brown also mentioned that the main work-on for the Stormers star is his goal-kicking. But the former All Black flyhalf revealed it is a ‘quick fix’.

And while some would argue that is partially why he missed out on Springbok matchday 23, Erasmus made it clear that it’s the decision to select six forwards and two backline players on the bench that led to Feinberg-Mngomezulu being selected instead of Libbok.

Speaking at a media briefing ahead of the first Test against Ireland, Erasmus said Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s versatility makes it easy for him to slot into different positions without much hindrance to the side.


Feinberg-Mngomezulu looks set to play a similar role as Damian Willemse, who is currently injured.

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“Sacha certainly brings something to the party in that we don’t make too many [positional] changes when we go for the six-two split,” the Springboks coach explained.

“That is actually where Manie misses out because if the No.12 goes down, then Sacha can go straight into No.12 because he played there for the Stormers, and if the No.15 goes down, he can go straight into No.15 and the same for 10.

“Whereas with Manie, him not making the team is purely because we went with the six-two split; he is not as comfortable at 12, meaning Handre Pollard would shift and Manie to 10 or fullback, or we would have to move Cheslin Kolbe to fullback with the backline all shifting one position out.

“So, it just made more sense to go with Sacha, who can cover all those positions.”

He added: “Sacha, similarly to Grant [Williams], also offers us additional options in the backline, as he can cover flyhalf and centre, while Grant is efficient at scrumhalf and wing, which places us in a good position with the six-two split.”

Erasmus hinted that there could be a late change by Thursday and revealed that there is the possibility that the management could opt for a seven-one split on the bench.

The Springboks utilized the seven-one split the last time they faced Ireland during the World Cup pool match and the Final against New Zealand.

“There are one or two niggles [in the squad], so it is still possible to go seven-one split,” he said.

“We will give until Thursday to make a decision, but I don’t want to elaborate on that too much.”



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