Manie Libbok welcomes Springbok pressure from Siya Masuku, Sanele Nohamba

MANIE Libbok, who has signed a Stormers contract extension, knows he faces stiff competition for the Springbok flyhalf spot. Photo: AFP

MANIE Libbok, who has signed a Stormers contract extension, knows he faces stiff competition for the Springbok flyhalf spot. Photo: AFP

Published Jun 1, 2024


IT was an easy decision to make, and Manie Libbok did not think too long and hard about staying in Cape Town for another three years until the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

The Stormers secured the services of another vital cog in their well-oiled machine for the foreseeable future, and fended off interest from overseas sides to keep one of their stars at home.

Libbok’s meteoric rise in Cape Town, after not finding his feet at the Bulls or Sharks earlier in his career, saw him rewarded with a World Cup winner’s medal, and the flyhalf now has his sights set on becoming South Africa’s No 1 No 10.

While the conversation has been hotting up around the Springbok pivot position – especially with the rise of the Sharks’ Siya Masuku, and Sanele Nohamba at the Lions performing excellently – the Stormers’ main man has quietly gone about his business with the attention slightly away from him.

But over the next couple of weekends, he will slowly come to the fore again as he makes a last bid to grab the Bok flyhalf jersey in the business end of the United Rugby Championship, with Handré Pollard the incumbent from last year’s World Cup triumph.

“The Stormers gave me the chance to come here and play my rugby, be myself and enjoy the game,” Libbok said about his contract extension.

“I want to continue with that, and add value to the team where I can, just to put ourselves in the best possible position to win trophies.

“I am a very happy man – the decision obviously wasn’t difficult. I love this city and the people of Cape Town. I love this environment, and am enjoying my rugby here.”

As Libbok did, Masuku and Nohamba had to take the road less travelled to get themselves into a position where the Bok coaches could take note of them.

So the Stormers No 10 would know and understand what their journey has been like as he comes from a similar background.

The 26-year-old playmaker has welcomed the competition at the Springboks, and looking at the form he is in at the moment, he will be keen to grab the Bok flyhalf jersey in the first of the 13 Tests they’ll be playing this year against Wales in London on June 22.

That will be followed by the blockbuster two-match series against Ireland on July 6 and 13 in Pretoria and Durban respectively.

“Sanele is a quality player. I’m stoked with how he is going now, and I am happy with how well he is doing. You can see he is enjoying his rugby. That is what any rugby player wants,” Libbok said.

“The same as I said about Sanele, I am very happy for Siya, and with how well he is doing.

“Everyone is stepping up and doing their very best at their unions to give themselves every possible chance of being selected.

“There is never not pressure playing in the URC. The quality is high, and everyone is pushing (for Bok honours).”

Another major boost for the Stormers, adding to the signings of Libbok, Steven Kitshoff, JD Schickerling, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Evan Roos, Dan du Plessis, and Ruben van Heerden, was the extension of 21-year-old Suleiman Hartzenberg’s stay in the Cape this week for another three years.

The utility back has been thriving on the wing for the Stormers, and was recently invited to the Springbok alignment camp, which shows just how highly rated he is.

“As a Cape Town boy, I am living my dream playing for the Stormers, and if the last two years are anything to go by, we all have a lot to look forward to,” Hartzenberg said.

“The environment here is truly special and I want to continue growing my game in the Stormers system, surrounded by some world-class players and coaches.”