Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks fly-halves could face off in Champions Cup

Dylan Coetzee

Split with Leicester Tigers star Handre Pollard and Stormers star Manie Libbok.

Rugby World Cup-winning fly-halves Handre Pollard and Manie Libbok could go head-to-head this weekend in the Champions Cup as Leicester Tigers host the Stormers at Welford Road on Sunday.

The pair were integral in the Springboks’ fourth title win with Libbok steering the team through the pool stages before Pollard’s return where he kicked his side to victory in France.

Pollard has been in great form for Leicester since coming back from Test duty and has been a big part of their recent three-win run in the Premiership. For Libbok he has only just returned to the Stormers, who struggled without him, and powered his team to a bonus-point triumph over Zebre at the weekend.

Travel decisions

The Stormers now have the gruelling task of travelling to England to face Leicester and then coming all the way back to Cape Town to face defending champions La Rochelle.

Head coach John Dobson knows the importance of winning at home and openly declared that beating La Rochelle was a must. He also suggested he would be taking a mixed side to Leicester without Springboks Damian Willemse and Deon Fourie.

Given there was no mention of Libbok and the Stormers’ lack of depth at fly-half, it would suggest the playmaker will be on the plane.

“Beating La Rochelle is non-negotiable,” Dobson said. “If we get a point away from home it will be good, but you just can’t afford to lose at home.

“La Rochelle is not only important for us but also for Cape Town. It will be our first real home game of this season at DHL Stadium, and the season already started in October.

Few changes for Leicester clash

“With a few exceptions, the team that played against Zebre is the one that will face La Rochelle,” Dobson added.

“Does it make any sense to detour players like Damian Willemse and Deon Fourie to play in the northern hemisphere and then have them come back for a game six days later?”

It has been a brutal start to the season for the Stormers, who have only won three games from seven and will be hoping to use the Champions Cup, and the return of their Springboks, to ignite their campaign.

READ MORE: Champions Cup dates and kick-off times for Round One of the 2023-24 competition