The South Africa fly-half has been on some journey from age-grade star to full international
Manie Libbok was the only recognised 10 in South Africa’s squad for the World Cup in France that features four scrum-halves, though the 26-year-old Stormers star will have full-back Damian Willemse as cover, if Handre Pollard does not recover from injury to play some part in the tournament in France.
That means, undoubtedly, a great deal of pressure is on the 26-year-old Libbok’s shoulders, who heads into the World Cup with fewer than 10 caps and less than a handful of starts to his name.
So, who is the player entrusted with piloting the defending champions in France?
Ten things you need to know about Manie Libbok
1 Immanuel ‘Manie’ Libbok was born in Humansdorp, Eastern Cape, on July 15, 1997.
2 His first provincial selection came in 2013. He represented Eastern Province at the Under-16 Grant Khomo Week.
3 He moved to George, Western Cape, in 2014, where he attended Hoërskool Outeniqua. At the prestigious Under-18 Craven Week in 2015, he scored a tournament-leading 43 points in three matches, including 21 against former side Eastern Province. His four tries were the joint second-highest in the competition.
4 That performance earned him a call-up to South Africa’s squad for the 2015 Under-18 International Series. He started matches against Wales and England, and was on the bench for the win over France as South Africa swept the series.
5 Libbok played at fly-half and full-back at the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester. South Africa beat a France side that included a certain Antoine Dupont en route to a fourth-place finish.
6 He was considered something of a luxurious liability. But after struggling for a starting role at Bulls and Sharks, Libbok is now one of the first names on the Stormers team-sheet.
7 Libbok helped Stormers to the inaugural URC title in the 2021-22 season. He was instrumental, too, as they reached the 2022-23 final, which they lost to Munster.
8 He topped the URC points-scoring tally in the 2022-23 season, with 217 for Stormers, including six tries, and added a further 29 in four Champions Cup outings. According to URC figures, his 978m gained was the best of any player last season.
9 Libbok made his senior Springboks debut as a replacement in the 30-26 defeat against France in November 2022. His first senior international start came against Australia in the 2023 Rugby Championship. And he was the only out-and-out 10 named in South Africa’s 33-player squad for the World Cup.
10 He was recently on the radar of Top 14 side Racing 92, as a replacement for Finn Russell. But he turned down a post-World Cup move to France in favour of extending his stay with URC side Stormers through to 2027.
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