Best rebounder finale: Duhan vs Manie

Scotland’s power finisher squares up to the Stormers comeback kid, but who had the best career revival?

After four action-packed rounds aimed at finding rugby’s greatest tale of redemption, the grand finale pits Manie Libbok against Duhan van der Merwe for a blockbuster finish.

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Van der Merwe shone at youth level for the Bulls, scoring heaps of tries from 2014 to 2016, before tucking away five-pointers for Tuks in the Varsity Cup.

But the flyer’s rapid rise hit a speed bump after varsity rugby. He made his domestic first class debut for the Bulls in the 2016 Currie Cup qualifiers, but disappointingly received only two caps and opted to join Montpellier on a youth contract later that year

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Difficulties adjusting and recurring injuries plagued the winger’s time in France as he was capped only twice for Montpellier’s senior team, fuelling his move to Edinburgh in 2017.

Since joining Edinburgh, Van der Merwe boasts a terrific strike-rate of 34 tries in 75 appearances, and a short but prolific 17-cap stint at Worcester Warriors in 2021 saw the flyer bag another eight tries.

He scored on his Scotland debut against Georgia in 2020 and was consistent and prolific since, scoring a total of 17 tries in 28 matches, efforts that earned Van der Merwe three British and Irish Lions caps against South Africa in 2021.

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After failed stints at the Bulls and Sharks, Libbok relocated to the Cape in 2021 and relaunched his career under coach John Dobson at the Stormers.

He was a superstar during the 2021-22 Vodacom URC as the Stormers powered to a maiden title in the debut tournament. Libbok finished the season as the competition’s top point-scorer, and later earned three Bok caps.

Best rebounder: Lappies vs Libbok

Growing in confidence this season, Libbok looks set to play another important role in the champions’ title defence and will be eyeing a Bok spot for the 2023 World Cup later this year.

Who bounced back best?

Photo: Twitter/@THESTORMERS, Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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