Manie Libbok and Jesse Kriel calm over World Cup fate: 'It doesn't matter who starts'

Manie Libbok and Jesse Kriel calm over World Cup fate: 'It doesn't matter who starts'

Springbok stars Manie Libbok and Jesse Kriel say they are ready for any eventuality when the team gets announced on Friday and are ready to do whatever job is required of them.

The Boks face France in a winner-takes-all quarter-final clash in Paris on Sunday night, and there is fierce competition for a starting spot in a few positions around the field.

Kriel faces competition from Lukhanyo Am and Canan Moodie for the outside centre position, while Libbok is in a similar situation with Handre Pollard for the starting flyhalf spot.

"I don't think the Bok No 13 jersey is ever yours," said Kriel. "It's good to have Lukhanyo (Am), who has put himself back up for selection in the squad, and Canan (Moodie) is also doing well there.

"Lukhanyo is a world-class player and both Canan and I have been learning from him. I was injured in the last World Cup, so it's great to be here."

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Libbok felt the same about the No 10 jersey and said: "It's nice to have Handre (Pollard) back. We help each other where we can. It doesn't matter who starts. I know he'll do a great job. He's a world class player and he's done it before."

South Africa played an epic Test match against France in Marseille last year where, even though they lost the match 30-26, they produced a heroic performance with 14 men after Pieter-Steph du Toit was sent off for a head clash with Jonathan Danty.

Eventually reduced to just 13, the Boks still had a chance to pull off an unlikely victory in the dying moments of the match, and though France ultimately hung on for the win, the moral victory arguably belonged to the Boks.

Kriel and Libbok said the experience in Marseille 11 months ago had prepared them well for the challenge ahead this weekend.

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"Personally I'm excited about the fact that I may have a chance to play against France in front of a packed stadium," said Kriel. "It's something the whole team is embracing, and I think it will be an exciting spectacle. We fought hard in the last game against France and as a team we can take comfort from that."

Libbok added: "It's going to be tough. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to play against them last year in front of their home crowd, and that was good for us.

"That said the focus for us is on how we want to play the game and that will be our mindset going into the match."

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