Stormers need Manie Libbok to show the Bulls who’s boss

Manie Libbok of the Stormers during Investec Champions Cup 2023/24 game between the Stormers and La Rochelle at Cape Town Stadium

The Bulls will look to pick up their first United Rugby Championship win over the Stormers at the Cape Town Stadium. Seen here: Stormers and Springbok flyhalf Manie Libbok. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published Dec 23, 2023


There’s a desire to build on the winning momentum picked up last weekend by the Stormers, and a perfect early Christmas gift will be a triumph over the Bulls on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Pretoria team will look to pick up their first United Rugby Championship win over the hosts at the Cape Town Stadium (7pm kick-off).

Rugby writer Leighton Koopman looks at four key players for the Stormers.

Mercurial Manie

He has lapped up every opportunity to torture the team that let him go several seasons ago. And it won’t be any different for Manie Libbok come kick-off.

Although he’s not yet found the rich attacking form that saw him drive the Bok attack at the Rugby World Cup and the Stormers last season, Libbok will want to keep turning over the Bulls. But it’s not just his attacking game that will come under scrutiny. Libbok’s defensive channel will be targeted by his former teammates. He’s been sound on defence, though, and stood up to the La Rochell’s big boys.

Never-say-die Deon

He may be closer to 40, but the Bulls shouldn’t think for one second that they will be able to push Deon Fourie around. They can ask Levani Botia, who was involved in an early scuffle with the World Cup-winning flank in last week’s La Rochelle game.

Fourie was ready for it, and he will be ready for anything the Bulls throw his way. It’s going to be his task to slow the ball down at the breakdown when their opponents want quick ball possession. And his ball poaching will be needed to get the Stormers out of tricky situations.

Fourie’s captaincy will also be vital in his side’s hopes of a seventh consecutive victory over the Bulls.

Anchoring the scrum

In the absence of Springbok Frans Malherbe, the Stormers can be chuffed with how Neethling Fouché has stepped up to the plate – not just at scrum time, but leading the side too.

Against a massive Bulls pack, Fouché will be key in that scrum battle to ensure the Stormers get a good shove on their opponents, but also to stabilise things when they are on the defensive.

The Stormers’ scrum has been on the rampage in recent weeks, with La Rochelle and the Leicester Tigers feeling their wrath.

Reading the Bulls attack

Ruhan Nel will have a busy evening in Cape Town, for sure.

The Stormers outside centre will be tasked with dismantling every backline attacking move the Bulls will run their way.

He has that responsibility on his shoulders, as well as stopping the fleet-footed Stedman Gans, who’s his direct opponent..

The two obviously know each other very well from their Blitzboks days, and each will be eager to get the better of the other. Gans has some magic feet and will be one of the drivers of the Bulls attack.