By Nick Said
MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) – Flyhalf Manie Libbok is the man to lead South Africa in their quest to retain the Rugby World Cup, even if he has bad days from the kicking tee, captain Siya Kolisi said in the wake of their 18-3 victory over Scotland in Marseille on Sunday.
Libbok is a key creative player for the Springboks in the backline and put in a man-of-the-match performance against the Scots, but kicked two from five relatively simple attempts at goal and has been wayward off the tee in the past.
But Kolisi said his side have no concerns around Libbok in potentially tight knockout contests and there were others who could take over kicking duties if required.
“We play as a team and sometimes you are not good at one thing on the day,” Kolisi told reporters.
“But the way he attacked and the way he takes control of the team, people forget that and remember only the other stuff.
“Faf (de Klerk) can kick, Cheslin (Kolbe) can kick, there are a lot of guys we can call upon. If someone is lacking somewhere, then someone else will take over.
“It is the same with me, sometimes I don’t know what to call to make in the game. So Duane (Vermeulen) or Eben (Etzebeth) will make the call instead. Even Manie will make a call.”
Kolisi insists that Libbok’s all-round game and ability to ignite their backline and create try-scoring opportunities, as he did for Kurt-Lee Arendse against the Scots with a superb crossfield kick, outweighs everything else.
“Some flyhalves kick well but can’t tackle. He tackles as hard as anyone. So we don’t stress about it, if he misses, the next guy can go.”
South Africa led 6-3 at halftime but Kolisi was not happy with the intensity they showed.
“It was quite clear we did not start the way we normally do and with the intensity we usually bring,” he said.
“The conversations (at halftime) were clear. We had to improve. Set-piece is important and that is why we came out with that (improved) energy.”
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)