Another 'amazing night' targeted as Manie returns to scene of triumph

rugby16 January 2024 12:42| © SuperSport
By:Gavin Rich
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Mannie Libbok © Gallo Images

Springbok flyhalf Manie Libbok has had a few amazing nights in Paris within the past four months and he is hoping for one more as he returns with the DHL Stormers for his landmark 50th game for the franchise.

The Stormers won’t be playing their fourth round Investec Champions Cup match against Stade Francais in the stadium where Libbok was a pivotal member of the Bok team that beat France in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal, was then a starter in the semifinal against England and then watched from the stands as the squad claimed rugby’s Holy Grail.

But he does have happy memories of playing in France and is confident that he and his teammates will produce the type of performance that will provide reason to add to his own personal celebrations at getting to the half century mark in caps at a franchise he joined from the Sharks just two years ago. And no, the probability of it being -2 degrees in Paris on Saturday night is not putting him off.

“It will be nice to be back there (Paris). Obviously it will be a different stadium, but I am looking forward to being back there playing against a quality side in Stade France,” said the Stormers pivot.

“It feels like it has been quick to get to 49 caps and obviously it has been a very amazing ride and hopefully it will be an amazing night. But for us as a team it is the challenge ahead of us that is grabbing all our focus. It is challenging to pay in France and my focus is on the game and giving my all for the team.

“It is tough playing in the cold and it does take some getting used to, but whereas it will be -2 on Saturday I think it was -4 when we played against Clermont in last year’s Champions Cup. I think we will have learned from that experience and will be better for it.”


Libbok, as coach John Dobson recently pointed out, has grown a lot through his experiences of playing for the Boks and particularly being part of a winning World Cup effort. But the player himself was more interested in focusing on the Stormers team growth, which feels there has been a lot of, ahead of what will be an important game for them given that the frontier of winning in France is one that still needs to be crossed.

“It is important to grow and keep on growing (individually) and I always want to learn and get better and work on my game, but the growth of the group as a whole has been amazing,” said Libbok.

“We have identified areas where we need to grow and we have been doing that. We want to be better and want to learn and this weekend will be a really good test of where we are at as a team. We haven’t got good results overseas in the past year or so so a positive result in Paris will do great things for our confidence.”

The Stormers were put through an intense period when they played three successive tough home games over the festive period, and that was extended to four when they played Sale Sharks this past weekend, and Libbok feels the experience was good for the team.

“At his level and even at URC level we play against tough teams, we play against quality outfits, and the December fixtures were particularly difficult. I am very proud of the way the guys handled themselves and the fight they showed. There was a lot of character. As a group you get a lot of confidence out of narrow victories like that. The close games are the nature of the game and the level we are playing at so it means a lot when you come through victorious.”


Libbok’s experience of winning the World Cup may have helped his own confidence in the Stormers’ ability to build on last season’s achievement of reaching the quarterfinal stage in Europe and maybe going all the way this time.

“We’ve got to like the level that the Champions Cup requires of us and we are getting used to it. It was good to make the quarterfinal last season and for us this year is about building on that. But the focus is on a game by game basis. The Stade Francais game will be a massive test for us, a good contest, and we know they will be really difficult to beat in front of their home crowd.

“It will be huge though for our confidence if we can win there because we have struggled overseas. If we do the small things right we believe we can get the result we are looking for this weekend.”