Manie Libbok has experienced everything France’s weather can throw at a player and has called on his DHL Stormers teammates to embrace subzero conditions in the Champions Cup clash against Paris’ Stade Francais on Saturday.
Libbok will return to France for the first time since helping the Springboks win the 2023 World Cup when he travels with the DHL Stormers to the capital for the crucial fourth-round match.
The start of the World Cup saw Libbok play in France’s summer, where temperatures rose into the upper 30s, but as the tournament went on it got colder and colder. Libbok’s most recent appearance in the country came in driving rain in the semi-finals against England.
Saturday’s match will be the Stormers’ second foray into France, after last season’s Champions Cup opener in Clermont.
“Last year, when we played over there it was about -4 [degrees]. It was very cold, but it was a good experience,” Libbok said. “It helps a lot, playing in the cold, it definitely helped us improve.
“This time around, we just have to embrace it, embrace the conditions, enjoy it, go out there and put our best foot forward. We still need to execute our plan for them to give us the best possible chance of getting a result.”
The Stormers go into the match knowing anything could still happen as they try to escape the ‘Pool of Death’, where any of five teams can still qualify for the round of 16.
However, John Dobson’s side has a spring in their step, after rediscovering a bit of their attack edge in the bonus-point victory of Sale Sharks, their fourth win in a row.
“We feel good about that. It was great to be able to create so many opportunities last weekend and get those opportunities, as well,” Libbok explained. When previously, it was a bit tough in terms of how the other teams played.
“This time around, it was great, the way Sale Sharks played. We had a mental break earlier in the week. We just want to be better. We are happy with the opportunities we created and our analysis during the week worked well. We just saw those pictures and executed and it worked out.”
Photo: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix