World Cup-winning icon and record point-scorer Percy Montgomery believes the Springboks don’t have to choose between Manie Libbok and Handre Pollard, there’s place for both.
The legendary Bok fullback, Montgomery told SA Rugby magazine that he would start a fit Pollard at inside centre, give him the goal-kicking responsibilities and allow his experience of World Cup playoff matches to bring the best out of Libbok.
Montgomery’s selection would not be at the expense of incumbent No 12 Damian de Allende – the 102-Test veteran said De Allende ranks among the best in the world and is good enough to start at 13.
The criticism of Libbok is unfair, according to Montgomery who called on the personal experience of his first year of Test rugby.
“I’ve never been a believer that you can ask three different guys to kick in a game, when they don’t know when they’ll be called on to kick,” he said.
“I experienced that in my first Test match against the British & Irish Lions in Durban. Henry Honiball and Andre Joubert missed kicks and I was asked to step in. And when I missed, I was blamed for the result.”
Ironically, Montgomery went on to become the first Springbok Test centurion, South Africa’s all-time leading point-scorer and did not miss a kick in the 2007 Rugby World Cup final despite making the last two penalty shots with torn ligaments in his left knee.
Monty believes the positives of Libbok’s game far outweigh his goal-kicking inconsistency, especially if Pollard is picked on his outside to kick at goal.
“I don’t know Manie and haven’t worked with him as a kicking coach, but just looking at his kicking style, I think his kicking tee is too high. It may sound really simple, but something that simple could be the problem.
“I also think he’s concentrating too much on the clock countdown and he is adding pressure to the process by bringing every kick down to the last second. My advice to him would be to trust his natural feel for how long it takes to kick and concentrate more on his follow-through.”
Monty lamented the Boks’ kicking at 20 percent success-rate in the 13-8 loss against Ireland in Paris on Saturday, but added with confidence that goal-kicking is something that can be fixed within a week.
“Ireland kicked at 100 percent on Saturday and won by five points, and you can be sure that if these two teams meet in the final, the Boks will kick at more than 20 percent.”
Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images