- The Sharks' style of play was one of the biggest reasons Manie Libbok left the Bulls for the Durban-franchise.
- Libbok and Warrick Gelant are among the biggest losses to the Bulls thus far.
- Sharks coach Sean Everitt convinced him that something special was brewing at Kings Park.
Flyhalf Manie Libbok said a change of environment and the way the Sharks played were among the chief reasons he left the Bulls to join the Durban franchise.
Libbok's move was confirmed by the Bulls last week but had been reported to have been sealed early in the 21-day "transfer window", which allowed players to opt out of their existing contracts.
The 22-year-old, who can play a number of backline positions, made the surprising switch to a team already brimming with young, talented backline players such as Curwin Bosch and Aphelele Fassi.
The Sharks were the leading South African team in Super Rugby before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, playing a blend of champagne and efficient rugby. It's this delectable cocktail of offensive daring coupled with forward-industry that enticed Libbok the most.
"Regarding the move, I felt like it was time for me to make a change and I felt the time was right for me to make that change," Libbok told Sport24.
"I want to take my game to the next level and I can do that at the Sharks. The way the Sharks are playing is the way I want to play and I think it will suit my style of play.
"I definitely feel like I can fit in well with the guys they've got and into their system. I'm the type of guy who likes to attack with the ball and play the space in front of me.
"Throughout the season this year, what I noticed about the Sharks was that they played the exact kind of game I wanted to play.
"You can see that the guys have the freedom on the field to play what they see in front of them and that’s my thing.
"I know a lot of the guys as well. I played with Curwin throughout my Junior Springbok career, so we know each other very well. We are similar in the way we play and I am looking forward to my time in Durban and playing with exciting guys."
With Libbok and Warrick Gelant opting to go to coastal cities Durban and Cape Town, respectively, they have also foregone the chance to be the next wave of senior and legendary players at Loftus.
While the glut of talented players, both forwards and backs, might see the Sharks emerge as the next Super Rugby force to come from these shores, an even spread of talent could have benefitted South African rugby as a whole.
Veteran Morne Steyn's return to Pretoria this year put Libbok at the back of the queue in his favoured No 10 position. Many expected the younger Libbok to become the new Bulls focal point but even new Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, told City Press that he could not guarantee Libbok starting game time in the next three years.
Instead, he opted to take his talents to the Sharks, where, although starting time would not be guaranteed either, at least he could be part of something special.
Libbok revealed that he spoke to Sharks head coach Sean Everitt, who convinced him that something special was brewing at the Shark Tank.
"I did speak to the coach, Sean, and we had a good chat," he said.
"I could hear from the chat that they are busy building something special. He made me excited about joining the guys and being part of that something special. That also made my decision easier because I'm excited about what's going on there and how they play."