England in SA
New feel to Bok camp - Habana
Bryan Habana (Gallo Images)
Durban - Bryan Habana concedes that “things are different” within the Springbok set-up under coach Heyneke Meyer, but insists that management have the full support of the players.
The Springboks will play under Meyer for the first time in Durban on Saturday at the start of a three-match Test series against England.
In a new dawn post Peter de Villiers, veterans John Smit and Victor Matfield are no longer involved, but Habana insists they are ready to move on.
“The dynamics have changed quite a bit at the back of the bus," he told reporters in Durban on Tuesday.
“We had some unbelievable rugby players, who will go down as legends of the game, that are no longer here.
“So things have changed and you have to believe in the structures and playing styles that the new coaches want to achieve.
“You have to fully buy into that concept and every successful Springbok team I’ve been involved in, for the last eight or nine years, has believed in those structures.”
Habana, with 74 caps to his name, is the most experienced player in the squad, which includes nine uncapped players, and he is expected to start in the first Test against England in Durban.
“It’s a great role and responsibility I have," he said.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to relay the messages I got when I first became a Springbok.
“The role and responsibility I, and all the senior guys, have for the whole country is huge and an honour and privilege.”
There has been talk in the build-up that the hosts may have given themselves too little time to prepare after the first part of the Super Rugby season concluded at the weekend.
“The one thing we all agreed upon was that there were going to be no excuses, no matter what the circumstances, whether it be preparation time or anything else," Habana said.
“We’re all professional enough to understand the role and responsibility we have to go out there on the field and make sure we start this new era off with a win.”
England have not won in Springbok territory for 12 years, dating back to 2000 when they were victorious in Bloemfontein, while their last seven Tests have all ended in defeat against the South Africans.
“It’s a fantastic record to have, but we’re not going to worry about what happened in the past,” Habana added.
“It’s about setting ourselves new goals and new standards and taking that forward for the next era in Springbok rugby.
“It’s definitely going to be tough on Saturday, but history means nothing.
"This is probably one of the stronger English sides to visit South African shores over the last 12 years.”