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VIDEO: Siya on magic Manie's real value

“Not if he wins man of the match.”

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That brusque response suggests the South African coaching staff is getting a bit annoyed with the ongoing enquiries about flyhalf Manie Libbok’s unsatisfactory goal-kicking record.

Libbok, who has been erratic, at best, off the kicking tee on the international stage this year, succeeded with only two out of five attempts at goal in the 18-3 World Cup Round One win over Scotland in Marseille this past Sunday.

Despite his goal-kicking woes, Libbok was named Man of the Match for an outstanding display – which included a no-look foot pass that resulted in Kurt-Lee Arendse’s try early in the second half.

It did not stop the media from pestering coach Jacques Nienaber about the paltry 40 percent success rate off the tee.

Nienaber said he has no concerns about Libbok’s game.

“Not if he wins man of the match,” was Nienaber’s blunt response.

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He repeated the same sentence a second time, when pressed to expand.

Libbok, 26, won that award after taking control in the second half of a gritty forwards-based match in Marseille and coming up with one particular piece of magic for the Boks’ second try that effectively sealed the win.

The 26-year-old flyhalf produced a perfectly-judged, no-look cross-kick to Arendse, the wing catching the ball in full flight and speeding away for a try that Faf de Klerk, having taken over the kicking duties from Libbok, duly converted from the touchline.

While the coach was in no mood to get into a discussion about his flyhalf, captain Siya Kolisi felt the need to step into the breach for the No.10.

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“This question, about Manie missing kicks, gets asked a lot,” Kolisi said.

“We play as a team and sometimes you’re not good at one thing on the day.

“But the way Manie attacked, the way he took control of the team, how he was a general amongst us, people forget that and they remember the missed kicks.”

Kolisi pointed out that scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and utility back Cheslin Kolbe can also kick at goal.

“If someone is lacking somewhere, somebody else takes over.

“It’s the same for me.

“Sometimes I don’t know what to call in the game, Duane [Vermeulen] or Eben [Etzebeth] or Manie will make the call.

“If someone’s lacking somebody else picks up.

“He’s not going to be good at everything every single game.

“Some flyhalves you have to hide them, because they can’t tackle.

“He [Libbok] tackles there [in the frontline] with us.

“If we lack somewhere, we work together, [and] don’t get stressed about it.

“If he misses a kick, we go again.

“It’s like a [line-out]. throw. If you throw it skew, you don’t do it intentionally.

“We work as a group. we work together and he has confidence in us.

“If Faf has to kick, nobody stresses. We move on.”

Libbok said he was “just honoured and grateful to wear the jersey”.

(WATCH the brilliant comebacks of Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and captain Siya Kolisi after yet another parcel of criticism aimed at flyhalf Manie Libbok…)

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“To have the opportunity at a World Cup is a dream come true for me,” the flyhalf said.

“I am just stoked the first game went like it did.

“I can take confidence out of this and move forward now.”

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, himself a former international flyhalf, said Libbok was “a threat with no-look kicks and a variety to his game, accuracy as well with his kicking game”.

“He’s able to run, pass and kick.

“He’s a great addition to an already talented South African back line and team.

“And he is helping them play a more attacking game than maybe at the previous World Cup.

“That would put a lot of pressure on opposition defences like it did against ours.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Additional reporting by AFP

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