Coach John Dobson believes new recruit Manie Libbok will fit perfectly into the Stormers’ vision to continue evolving their attacking game, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Earlier this week it was confirmed that Libbok would be making the move from the Sharks to the Stormers on a three-year deal.
The 24-year-old started his professional career at the Bulls and then joined the Sharks in 2020, but has found consistent game time tough to come by.
It’s undoubtedly another important career move for Libbok, who has yet to fully flourish at senior level despite boasting undeniably immense potential, as was showcased in some star performances for the Junior Boks.
Having perhaps fallen victim to the ‘utility back’ tag, Libbok has yet to settle in one position at senior level, having dovetailed quite regularly between flyhalf and fullback.
At the Sharks, Curwin Bosch and Aphelele Fassi predominantly held down starting berths as the incumbents at flyhalf and fullback, respectively, while more recently Lionel Cronje has slotted in at 10, with Bosch reverting to 15.
For some time now, the Stormers having been looking to add to their options at flyhalf, particularly after the long-term injury suffered by Kade Wolhuter earlier this season.
In his absence, Tim Swiel has carried a considerable work load at flyhalf, with Abner van Reenen heading for Italy.
With this in mind, and considering Springbok fullback Warrick Gelant is back to full fitness and looking to settle at fullback again, the recruitment of Libbok is a timely one for the Stormers.
At a virtual media briefing on Thursday – ahead of the Stormers’ departure for their upcoming Vodacom United Rugby Championship tour – Dobson was asked to identify what could be key to finally unlocking Libbok’s potential after he battled to make the flyhalf berth his own at either the Bulls or Sharks.
“He needs to play [regular] rugby,” the Stormers coach replied. “We saw earlier this year he was playing 10 for the Sharks, and it may have been rumoured that we were after Curwin [Bosch], but that was never the case. We were really interested in Manie. We played against him when he was at the Bulls, when John Mitchell was the coach, and he was incredibly good on attack.
“We made a strategic decision to evolve our attacking game, and having him settling in at 10 and attacking will be important for us. But the most important thing is to have him on the field, and already just in training this week, we’ve seen what he’s brought and we’re really really excited.
“I think the team that runs on next Saturday is going to be on another level in terms of our attacking game,” Dobson added.
The Stormers will face Benetton Treviso, Munster, Edinburgh and the Dragons on their four-match tour in the coming weeks.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports