‘Why didn’t we go into the corner?’ – John Dobson questions Springboks’ decisions

Dylan Coetzee
Springbok Manie Libbok kicks for goal.

Springbok Manie Libbok kicks for goal.

Stormers head coach John Dobson is uncertain why the Springboks did not opt to go for the corner more off penalties against Ireland, given their kicking woes and forward heavy bench.

In the build-up to the Test the 7-1 split on the bench dominated headlines but ultimately Ireland tamed the ‘Nuke Squad’, winning 13-8 thanks to a poor goal-kicking display from Manie Libbok and Faf de Klerk.

With 11 points left on the tee the defending champions showed their Achilles heel and they must now look for solutions which will likely come in the timely return of 2019 World Cup winner Handre Pollard.

Decisions in question

Dobson, who knows Libbok well, asked the question as to why the Boks continued to try to add points on the board when they knew their kickers were out of form. The coach argues that mauling would also have brought the 7-1 split into the game more in terms of tiring the Irish pack out.

“What was a bit uncertain for me and I’m sure Rassie’s got an answer, but why with the 7-1 bench we didn’t go into the corner like the Irish were going into the corner? Why didn’t we go into the corner and with Manie (Libbok) kicking like he is, with the 7-1, take Irish legs in the maul but we rather went for the distance penalties and two with Faf (de Klerk),” Dobson told the Off The Ball podcast.

“I mean that’s something I would like to know the answer to. I think a lot of people are uncertain as to that.”

Dobson explored the possibility of having both Libbok and Pollard in the same line-up, but it is not convincing for the coach.

“Look, there is another option which has been talked about that you have (Handre) Pollard at 12 and you push Damian de Allende out and you can always move Pollard in but that would mean a move away from the 7-1. I didn’t quite get that piece. Why 7-1 and then go for distance with a goal kicker who’s best described as erratic?”

What Libbok adds

Whilst Libbok has struggled from the tee there is no denying that the pivot adds a boatload of dynamism to the Boks’ attack and their general structures in open play.

“Yeah, I think I said, I think we chatted last week, you know, I thought we couldn’t, and it’s not only my view, the South Africans struggled to play into their 22. I think with Manie there, we got most chance,” Dobson added.

“I think he’s playing even better rugby than he plays in a lower level of the URC. He’s playing on the Springboks on attack, the way the ball’s out the back, getting us width.

“Sometimes with Manie the thing to do, unless it’s a conversion, is by giving him the easy penalties otherwise drill it in the corner.”

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