Springboks ‘undermining’ Manie Libbok by selecting Handre Pollard

Colin Newboult

Manie Libbok in action for Springboks against Scotland in the Rugby World Cup.

Former Ireland international Andrew Trimble believes that South Africa’s decision to bring in Handre Pollard could have a negative knock-on effect.

Manie Libbok was the only out-and-out fly-half named in the Springboks’ initial 33-man squad, with Pollard injured at the time of the announcement.

The 2019 World Cup winner has since returned to training and featured in Leicester Tigers’ Premiership Rugby Cup victory on Friday.

Replacement for Malcolm Marx

Following Malcolm Marx’s injury, which ruled him out of the tournament, the Bok coaches have decided to select Pollard rather than add cover at hooker.

Libbok started the team’s vital 18-3 triumph over Scotland, setting up the second try with a brilliant no-look cross-field kick, but he struggled off the tee.

The 29-year-old Leicester pivot is renowned for his kicking accuracy, and Trimble believes that he will bring “energy to that squad and that environment.”

However, the ex-Irish wing has also questioned the wisdom of Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus.

“As much as (Siya) Kolisi at the press conference stood up and defended Manie Libbok, then they bring in Pollard,” he told Virgin Media Sport.

“They’ve been saying: ‘We’ve got Libbok’s back, we know he’s going to sort out his kicking game,’ but if you pick Pollard, that kind of undermines that.”

A necessity

Trimble was commenting ahead of the huge clash between Ireland and the Springboks next weekend.

Sitting alongside him in the studio was another former Irish international, Rob Kearney, who felt that not having a reliable goal-kicker would harm South Africa’s chances later in the tournament.

“They need Pollard, particularly for his goal-kicking. If they cannot kick the ball between the posts, it’s going to cost them heavily in this tournament,” Kearney said.

“He played for Leicester and played very well. This was always in Rassie’s playbook. If there’s another injury in the South African squad, regardless of where it is, Lukhanyo Am will be in. It’s just starting to slowly come together for them.”

Ex-Scotland head coach Matt Williams agreed with Kearney that it was always in the Boks’ plans to bring in Pollard if they suffered an injury in another position.

“They said: ‘We’re not going to take guys away, we’re never going to do it.’ Yeah, right, mate,” he said.

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