PRETORIA – All eyes will be on Manie Libbok today when he slots into the Bulls No 10 jersey in their crucial clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Libbok has been given the reins and will have an extended run with Springbok pivot Handre Pollard missing the next three matches overseas through injury.
Enjoying the confidence of Bulls coach Pote Human, Libbok now has carte blanche to showcase his abilities.
Libbok is almost the polar opposite of Pollard and is expected to take on the defence with ball in hand.
In his last starting appearance in the Bulls’ 22-20 defeat to the Jaguares in Pretoria, Libbok settled in nicely scoring 15 of his team’s points.
The Bulls will be full of confidence after winning their first match abroad in three years, beating the Rebels 32-17 in Melbourne.
They will now be looking for a rare back-to-back win over an Australian side to consolidate their lead at the top of the South African conference.
“We spoke about being consistent in our performance, the Bulls last won in Canberra in 2007,” Human said. “This, the fact that we can beat all four Australian sides, Manie at flyhalf instead of Pollard makes it a bigger challenge.”
The Bulls were in fine form last weekend beating the Rebels despite the statistics stacked against them with only 38 percent possession and 28 percent territory. Human said they could not afford to allow the opposition to do most of the playing and gave his charges free rein.
“We can’t defend like that again, it is not the way you want to play, you want to play with the ball in hand and attack the space,” Human said. “We really hope to get a better ball percentage this week and play more rugby. I’ve asked the guys to play what is in front of them and attack the space.”
This will be good news for Libbok, who will be looking to make an impression on Human with an eye on the future. Pollard is on his way to French club Montpellier after this year’s Rugby World Cup with former Bok flyhalf Morne Steyn making a return for a final bow on home soil.
The Bulls’ fleet-footed wings Rosko Specman and Cornal Hendricks, who scored a try apiece against the Rebels will be rubbing their hands with glee with the prospect of getting more attacking ball.
But the Bulls can expect a grind up front as the Brumbies have shown a propensity for strong-arm tactics and the liberal use of the rolling maul.
“It definitely suits us, I don’t think they (Brumbies) will bring something different,” Human said.@WynonaLouw