Rassie admits Boks face Pollard, Libbok selection poser: Will they pick both in match-day 23?

Rassie admits Boks face Pollard, Libbok selection poser: Will they pick both in match-day 23?
Rassie admits Boks face Pollard, Libbok selection poser: Will they pick both in match-day 23?

Africa-Press – South-Africa. SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus admitted the kicking excellence of Handre Pollard and Manie Libbok’s ebullient match-play will pose a significant selection poser should the Boks reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Pollard started last Sunday’s 49-18 win against Tonga in Marseille in what was his first Test in 13 months, while Libbok has been an ever-present figure since his debut against France last year.

Pollard provided the kicking solidity when he goaled all four of the conversions in the 50 minutes he played against Tonga.

Libbok, whose goalkicking has been a topic of constant debate, also didn’t miss from the tee with three from three.

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Different skills and competencies will be required from them in the event they make the quarter-finals where goalkicking will matter.

The inclusion of the two in the match-day 23 will definitely have an impact on the Boks’ bench split, which is often set at six forwards and two backs for big games, and five/three for smaller Tests.

The Boks outrageously went for the seven/one split for the Pool B match against Ireland in Paris on 23 September, which the South Africans lost 13-8.

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Erasmus admitted they’ve got a slight selection headache which they need to navigate carefully should they make the play-offs.

“Unfortunately for Handre, it’s only the one game he has played. Manie had proved himself the way he has played in general play for us,” Erasmus said.

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“Handre made four kicks and Manie three, so we kicked seven out of seven. It’s a tough call we will have to make.

“If we go five/three, maybe both can be in the mix. If we go six/two it’s a possibility, if we go seven/one then things might look a little different.”

In the face of the goalkicking debate that simply refused to go away, Erasmus credited assistant coach Mzwandile Stick for taking that particular bull by the horns.

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Erasmus said Stick took it upon himself to help Libbok work on his kicking, something they know will come in handy in the play-offs.

Erasmus also acknowledged that Libbok’s tactical excellence makes him indispensable to the team and they need him to keep the opposition guessing.

“I won’t take any credit with that. If somebody helped him, it would be ‘Stokke’ (Stick). We know it’s a nice talking point and (kicking) wins games,” Erasmus said.

“But tries also win games and the way we play is to try and score tries. I really think we have been attacking much better, like the country has asked us to do and the supporters are always wanting us to be more creative and not just have this kicking game.

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“Manie brings that to us. He certainly has worked hard with Handre and maybe it’s Handre who gave him a tip or two.

I don’t think the shot clock was ever an issue with him and Manie is a very interesting character when it comes to something like that.

“It doesn’t bother him for the rest of his game and that is something special to have.

“It would be nice to have him on the park for that general play and if he is on song and fantastic with his kicking, but somebody else who can back him up if he does have a bad day.”

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