Johannesburg – Springbok stalwart Bryan Habana says South Africa relished the opportunity to test themselves against the World Cup champion All Blacks in Johannesburg on Saturday.
With only three matches left before the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, Habana believed South Africa needed to lay down the marker with a victory over their old foes.
“Coming up against the best team in the world at a stadium I really like playing at, it is going to be going to be fantastic,” Habana said.
“We have another opportunity to test ourselves against the best in the world but also lay down a marker in terms of where we want to go the rest of the year.”
The 32-year-old Habana, who will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 106 caps in this position, said while the team was still testing combinations it was important to get a good result in this Test.
“We as the Springbok side will never condone losing whether it’s in preparation for the World Cup, or whether it is by the mere fact that we are blooding youngsters,” he said.
“As a team we definitely want to grow, and we know there is a process but we also know what the value of winning is not only for us as a team but for South Africa as a country.”
Habana said history has shown that beating the All Blacks or going into the World Cup with victories behind them meant nothing if they could not reproduce the form at the tournament.
“There are a number of mini goals that need to be achieved in the lead up to the World Cup but we saw in 2011, even if you beat the All Blacks before it doesn’t mean everything going into the competition,” he said.
“But for our own confidence it will be pretty important to lay down a pretty good marker, not only as a team but also as individuals with the selection of the World Cup squad in a couple of weeks.”
The Springbok flyer said the introduction of new blood in the Springbok side did not only mean he would take on a mentorship role but they also reinvigorated his game.
The fresh-faced midfield combination of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende has added a new dimension to the Bok attack and the team spirit.
“One aspect I’ve experienced in rugby over the last 12 years is the combination and the way you put youth and experience together becomes really important,” Habana said.
“Seeing youngsters come through like Jesse Kriel, who is like a jack-in-the-box, he just can’t wait to be released, but with that experience helping him on and off the field, you allow him to bring the best of his ability to this team.
“Getting that combination right you need to make sure the experienced guys play their part but the exuberance of youth also plays its part.”
Kick-off for Saturday’s Test is scheduled for 17:05.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Francois Louw, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa