Fan surprises Libbok with Vodacom Fans Player of the Season Award

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  • Post published:May 18, 2023

It was during the Captain’s Practice ahead of their Vodacom United Rugby Championship semi-final against Connacht that DHL Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok turned around to see a fan walking across the field towards him.

Sardieq Slamdien had something in his hands, and as he approached Libbok the entire DHL Stormers team started clapping as he presented the flyhalf with the Vodacom Fans Player of the Season Award for his sterling performances in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship this season.

After an extensive voting process involving rugby fans from around the world, Libbok was the clear winner for a season in which he has not just been a star performer for his team but also played his way into the Springbok flyhalf conversation.

“I’ve followed Manie’s career for many years and it’s just such an inspiration to see how he’s come through as a youngster and come back from adversity. It’s inspirational to see how you can go forward in life if you put in the hard work, and he’s done that. His career has gone to another level with the work he’s put in,” said Slamdien.

John Dobson, head coach of the DHL Stormers, also paid tribute to Libbok’s rise when he said, “The growth in Manie since he came to the DHL Stormers has been phenomenal. Manie has developed this amazing ability to put things behind him and just to reset all the time”.

Even Connacht flyhalf Jack Carty could not contain his praise for Libbok after he played a major role in their semi-final defeat.

“He’s an incredible player. You never know what he’s going to do. You think he’s going to pass and he’ll do a little kick over the top. He kicks with both feet. He’s an incredible goalkicker and running threat. I think he’s a phenomenal player. I think it would be wrong for him not to be pushing in for that Springbok number 10 jersey. He’s a joy to watch just in terms of the range of skills he has and how he leads his forward pack around.”

Vodacom SA’s Managing Director, Sitho Mdlalose, himself a passionate rugby fan, said Libbok epitomises the essence of this award.

“Manie Libbok is a team man through and through who always recognises the role his teammates and the fans play in his individual success. At Vodacom we speak of going Further Together, and Manie represents exactly this. It’s the reason fans have responded so well to him and the team and poured into the DHL Stadium in record numbers to see them play. We’re delighted that the fans have recognised Manie’s performance in such a meaningful way with this award.”

As he graciously received the applause from his teammates and the award presented to him on the field by Slamdien, Libbok expressed his gratitude for being able to do what he loves and bring joy to those who watch.

“It’s a massive honour for me. I’m just so thankful for the fans for believing in me. It inspires me every single week to keep going out there and to put my best foot forward for them and do my best for the team. It’s never about me individually. I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to play. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’m very grateful to the DHL Stormers for that. The forwards in the team lay the foundation for me to perform and to do my thing. The job they do makes my job easier. So for me it’s all about the team and the fans. The fans are a huge part of our success and they support us through thick and thin. As players we’re just grateful for The Faithful and the fact that they always have our backs.”