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Sun 19 Sep 2021 | 09:00

The day that Libbok convinced Dobson he is the 'real deal'

The day that Libbok convinced Dobson he is the 'real deal'
Sun 19 Sep 2021 | 09:00
The day that Libbok convinced Dobson he is the 'real deal'
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Manie Libbok has often been labelled as one of those ‘talented’ young players that have not yet delivered, but at the Stormers he may just play to his true potential.

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For the past four years, he has struggled to find a regular starting spot – first at the Bulls and then at the Sharks.

It also did not help that the ‘utility’ tag saw him being shunted between flyhalf and fullback.

However, Stormers coach John Dobson is adamant that his ‘prodigious talent’ will not go to waste in Cape Town.

“I think the most important thing for Manie is to play rugby, as obvious as it sounds,” Dobson told a virtual media briefing – ahead of the Stormers’ departure for their four-week United Rugby Championship tour of Europe.

They start their tour against Benetton, in Treviso, next Saturday, September 25.

That is followed by encounters with Munster (Thomond Park, October 2), Edinburgh (October 9) and the Dragons (Rodney Parade, October 15).

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Dobson said the 24-year-old impressed him while playing at No.10 for the Sharks earlier this year, but it was almost four years ago he first encountered the qualities of the Libbok.

“There were rumours that we were after Curwin [Bosch],” he said of the Sharks’ other utility back, adding: “However, that was never the case.

“We were really interested in Manie [Libbok].”

The Stormers coach said it was in back 2017, while playing for the Bulls under the tutelage of John Mitchell, that they first took notice of his prodigious talent.

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“He was incredibly good on attack,” Dobson said of Libbok’s performance for the Bulls against the Cape Town franchise.

He added that the Stormers have made a “strategic decision” to evolve their attacking game.

“So, having him [Libbok] settle in at No.10 and attacking is really important for us.

“[However,] the most important thing is that he is on the field.

“Just at training this week, we’ve seen what he’s brought, and we’re really excited.

“I think the team that runs out next Saturday, as proud as I was of the performance towards the back end of the Currie Cup, is going to bring another level in terms of our attacking game, and Manie will be one of the drivers of that.”

The arrival of Libbok could also see him reunite with another very talented back – Springbok Warrick Gelant.

“We did a lot of research before we got Manie and there was a game when John Mitchell was coach of the Bulls – I think it was against the Hurricanes at Loftus – and Warrick and Manie played together and just absolutely fed off each other,” Dobson told the media briefing.

“It was uncanny.”

Dobson made it clear Libbok is primarily an attacking flyhalf.

“If you look at the game, with several teams using with two first receivers – [Beauden] Barrett and [Richie] Mo’unga [at the All Blacks], [Willie] le Roux and [Handre] Pollard [at the Springboks].

“[The Stormers will have] Gelant and Libbok, you will have to defend well.

“We want to create as many opportunities for him as we can.”

Libbok, born in Humansdorp and schooled at first HTS Daniël Pienaar in Uitenhage before moving to Hoërskool Outeniqua in George, spent most of his early years in the youth structures of the Eastern Province Kings and SWD Eagles.

He moved to Pretoria in 2016, where he played 40-off games before moving to Durban in 2020.

He also played for the SA Schools (2015) and SA Under-20 (2016 and 2017).

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