Rugby World Cup 2011

Habana: Losing unacceptable

2011-10-06 12:00
Bryan Habana (File)





Wellington - Springbok winger Bryan Habana says even the prospect of the reigning world champion losing to Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals would be "unacceptable" to the South African public.

"We set ourselves goals and we're realistic about how good we are and how far we can go and as individuals," Habana said, "And as a team we truly believe we can go all the way."

Habana said South Africa was not considering the possibility of defeat Sunday, despite only winning one of the last five head-to-heads in the last two seasons - including home and away losses in this season's Tri-Nations.

"They've got the edge over us at the moment but in a knockout game that means nothing," he said.

"It's a do-or-die game for 80 minutes and we've both got an opportunity to progress, so I don't think history will count for much."

Habana said Australia may believe they have a psychological advantage from their recent wins over South Africa but that couldn't be relied on in a World Cup setting.

"I think they could have felt that way against Ireland as well," he said. Australia lost 15-6 to Ireland to finish second in their pool, their first loss ever to the Irish at a World Cup.

"Anything can happen in this competition but they're a great team and we can't doubt the fact that they've won five of the last six games and we have to give them credit for that," he said. "But we as a team firmly do believe we have the capabilities to go out there and win on Sunday."

Habana said the Springboks could rely on experience with so many survivors from its World Cup victory in France four years ago. The Springboks couldn't depend on that experience alone to guide them to victory but it was a resource to fall back on in a close match.

Australia, in contrast, was a team on the rise.

"They've got some great youngsters coming through that have had a lot of experience over the last couple of years," Habana said.

"You look at the halfback pairing (Will Genia and Quade Cooper) that's been with the Reds now for the last couple of years but have been together since they were 17 years old. I think the youngsters have really put their hands up.

"We're expecting a great confrontation on Sunday - one with flair from their great backs and a physical challenge up front, where their forwards have really stepped up to the mark over the last couple of years."

Habana said the differences between the Wallabies and Springboks were small, almost insignificant.

He hoped the weather would not be the determining factor on Sunday. A wet day would hinder the Australian backs and ensure a forward-dominated tussle.

"In a competition like this, it's going to come down to decision-making," he said. "The team and individuals that make the best decisions and the most accurate decisions will come out on top."

Habana tipped fullback Patrick Lambie, one of the youngest members of the South African lineup, as one of the key figures in the match.

"He almost single-handedly won a Currie Cup last year and he's really put his hand up in the Super Rugby competition this year. I've a lot of faith in his ability," he said.

"Not only is he a great rugby player, but he's a fantastic person off the field, as well.

Springbok captain "John Smit said (Lambie) is the only rugby player he'd let his daughter go out with."

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