Former Bulls and South Africa fly-half Morne Steyn is confident incumbent Springbok number 10 Manie Libbok will do a good job at the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France.
Libbok received plenty of criticism from Springbok supporters after some underwhelming goal-kicking performances during the Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup warm-up Tests against Argentina and Wales.
Only specialist fly-half in the Springboks squad
The 26-year-old Stormers playmaker is the only specialist fly-half in the Boks’ 33-man squad for the World Cup after Handré Pollard was ruled out due to a calf injury.
Pollard, who was South Africa’s first choice number 10 when they won the 2019 World Cup in Japan, has recovered from his injury and is on standby as a replacement if one of the players in the current Bok squad should withdraw through injury.
Steyn is one of the most prolific goal-kickers to ever play for the Springboks, amassing 742 points in 68 Tests for his country, is backing Libbok to deliver the goods at the highest level for his country.
“A guy like Manie Libbok has worked his ar*e off to be where he is,” Steyn told IOL. “He sat behind me (at the Bulls); he sat behind a lot of guys and worked hard. They did not give him the opportunities.
“He is doing well now. Last weekend (when Libbok slotted five out of five kicks against the All Blacks in a record victory in London), we saw that he can be that 90% (success rate) goal-kicker when it is needed from him.
“He kicked very well at the Stormers, so I don’t know what happened the previous three games.”
Despite some poor goal-kicking performances – especially against Wales in Cardiff – Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has kept the faith with Libbok, who delivered an outstanding goal-kicking performance in the Boks’ 35-7 win against New Zealand on Friday.
South Africa kick off their World Cup campaign against Scotland in a highly anticipated Pool B encounter on September 10 before facing Romania (September 17), Ireland (September 24) and Tonga (October 1) in their other pool matches.
Important to retain winning momentum
Steyn believes it’s important that the defending champions take the momentum from their All Blacks triumph into the World Cup.
“We all saw on Friday night what they can do and the type of rugby they can play,” he said. “I am excited about the World Cup… it will be an exciting one. I think the team is ready (for what awaits).”
The 39-year-old recently joined the Lions’ backroom staff as a kicking consultant ahead of their 2023/24 United Rugby Championship (URC) and Challenge Cup campaigns.