Div retains faith in Habana

2010-08-31 14:03

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - The possibility of further misery or a likely last chance in 2010 to get his Test-level act back together?

GALLERY: Springboks in training

You can bet Bryan Habana, the popular Springbok left wing, will be wondering about that as much as his legion of fans and more neutral observers, following his retention in the Springbok team to play Australia in their final Vodacom Tri-Nations assignment in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Speculation that the 27-year-old should be rested from internationals for his own good has been pretty rife for a while, and it would only have gathered steam as he stuttered his way through the crazily see-sawing Loftus game against the Wallabies.

As always, you could hardly have accused Habana of lacking heart. He does put his body on the line for the cause, even when his own game is as clearly off-kilter as a Ras Dumisani rendition of the national anthem after a smoke-athon in a crowded room.

But it has been that way for a while, and it is so evident that he is tortured and mystified by it – the way he shakes his head or puts his hands to the back of it is all the indication you need that he is asking himself: “What the blazes is going on here?”

There was fresh cause for personal - and broader, of course - consternation on Saturday, when he absolutely gift-wrapped a try for James O’Connor through his fumbling of a mundane kick collection, and was also partly culpable in Dean Mumm’s dot-down.

The recall to the squad after the Bok victory of versatile Western Province team-mate Gio Aplon seemed to suggest that Peter de Villiers and company might actually be on the brink of axing the seemingly “undroppable” 64-capper.

Instead Aplon starts his haul back to Bok favour off the bench, where he effectively replaces the injured Butch James.

But at least his mere presence among the substitutes places meaningful pressure on Habana to sharpen up his game if he is to get the full 80 minutes.

And maybe there is method to the apparent madness: if this follow-up against the Wallabies turns into anything even half as fast ‘n loose as the Pretoria meeting, opportunities for some overdue Habana torpedo-dives into the corner may just present themselves and start to turn his decidedly patchy winter around.

Aplon will be itching to get on the paddock, considering how unfortunate he was to be dropped after a better-than-respectable showing in all facets of play against the All Blacks in Soweto … and won’t Habana, for instance, know it!

Besides, the incumbent flier would be wise to take the approach that this is one final fling in a national jersey for the year – he is highly unlikely to be sent on the end-of-year-tour, given his chronic need for a rest -- and there is really little more for him to lose in ‘Bloem’.

The lone change to the starting line-up from Loftus sees veteran Danie Rossouw earn the nod for his 53rd cap ahead of much younger Blue Bulls colleague Flip van der Merwe, who in turn reverts to the bench.

Van der Merwe has staked some longer-term claims, but I am happy for Rossouw, who was one of few Bok standouts on the appalling overseas leg of the Tri-Nations and has hardly deserved to have to wear the No 18 jersey at times since.

His inclusion may also be a sign that the Springboks hope to put the brakes on the frantic Loftus tempo and inject a bit more, old-fashioned grapple and grind and set-piece play into this week’s clash for purposes of security …


South Africa:

15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp

Reserves: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Juan de Jongh, Gio Aplon



Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)


  • Mike - 2010-08-31 14:28

    YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME !!!!! My freakin word. What else must Habana do wrong to get dropped??? He cost SA so many tries this year. BLOEM...please boikot this game???

  • Now! - 2010-08-31 14:39

    Now if we can get rid of January, John Smit and Chiliboy and get a proper fetcher somehow (Francois Louw and Heinrich Brussow later when back from injury) also add Andries Bekker and Fourie du Preez we would be pretty close to a squad that can win it next year. Just no Wynand Olivier please!

  • Forget Me Not - 2010-08-31 14:39

    Why not drop Francios Steyn as well. Cos he was hopeless at the back.

  • Pieta - 2010-08-31 14:40

    Toetse kan nie gebruik word om spelers op vorm te kry nie. Dit is belaglik. Kan PdV vir ons dalk inlig hoe lank so speler nodig het of sal hy nou erken dat hy Francois Hougaardt lankal in January se plek kon kies.Habana verdien nie sy plek op die oomblik nie, finish en klaar. Dit is nie waar dat n wenspan noodwendig die sterkste span is nie. n Sterker span sal verder wen en meer vertroue sal ontstaan. Spies is slegs aanvallend en help nie regtig sy mede voorspelers by die afbreek punte nie. Hy het saterdag meer gekonsentreer om oor die aussie te spring wat die drie druk eerder as hom te plettervat voor die doelyn. Was Jean Smit of Schalk Burger in die plek van Spies sou dit ook nie n drie teen ons gewees het nie. Ons moet baie goed wees om te wen met soveel passasiers in die span en dit gaan ons harde spelers se tyd verkort omdat hul meer moet doen om te vergoed vir ander.

  • edwin - 2010-08-31 14:46

    Danie back means a 50% chance for a yellow card. Will the "overplayed and tired" (Read old) players play in the rest of the currycup or will they be rested until next year?

  • Jonathan - 2010-08-31 14:53

    Great Article! Fair, balanced and a very good analysis of the situation as it stands. I tend to agree that Habana is having a huge dip in form and it has impacted his confidence severely. Quite frankly, his body language displays an uncertainty in his instinctive decision making which could possibly explain why he ran instead of kicking on Saturday. Nonetheless, I agree with the coaches faith in Habana for this last game of the 3N. If he is not going at the end of the year... it would be better for all Springbok fans and the Bokke themselves that Habana goes into the break remembering something other than this past Saturday as his last International... THat would really kill the mans psyche!

  • garriga! - 2010-08-31 14:55

    I understand keeping Habana in, but Rickey??? He stuffs up wherever he goes!!! Please cut this guy loose, he does not deserve a spot on the bench, let alone a place in the team.

  • JJK - 2010-08-31 15:04

    Habana should not be rested, he should be sent back to Loftus, so we can teach him how to play rugby again.

  • STORMER - 2010-08-31 15:16

    When Spies is dropped....Habana can be dropped.

  • RUGBY KING@EDWARD - 2010-08-31 15:20

    that is up to the franchises as they own the players and pay their the end its not about pride and country its about business and winning the curry cup mean big business for these franchises so my guess is these franchises will play their springboks

  • Loodpil - 2010-08-31 15:36

    I hope JP Pietersen makes at least one tackle this week. Why not replace him with Aplon and bring van den Heever in Habana's place ?

  • Pikike - 2010-08-31 15:40

    I feel for Habana as he is trying his best to justify his inclusion but keeps on messing it up. At least he has a coach who believes in him! And he deserves a last chance before the break. Go Bryan Habernero Habana!!!!!!

  • Cliff Bradley - 2010-08-31 15:48

    JJK : How you going to do that - teaching him to kill metro police will help

  • both - 2010-08-31 15:48

    PDV and Banana are both quotas...

  • Rugby Fan - 2010-08-31 15:50

    I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS CLOWN!!! Why the hell does he insist on putting Ricky Januarie in the team - I wish somebody would ask him why he keeps selecting him. Just because a player "has heart" and "puts his body on the line for the cause" is not a reason to keep him in the team when he is clearly out of form. John Smit & Bryan Habana should have been rested and Ricky Januarie been permanently put out to pasture...Furthermore, WHERE IS BISMARCK DU PLESSIS? Does this clown really believe Chiliboy is the next best hooker in the country???

  • scrum cap - 2010-08-31 15:53

    Hey, hey, roll on Saturday!!! Watch the Boks give the yellow shirts another klap!!! C'mon people, lets' be a 'lil positive and see last week's victory as the start of a long lasting winning streak!!! Perhaps Bryan will get his mojo back & will resprt to his usual brilliant self once again? Exercise some faith will 'ya!!!

  • Polly - 2010-08-31 16:08

    Will the Blue Bull supporters please stop thinking that they taught Brian Habana how to play rugby. His career started at the Lions and those were the days that he played properly.The Bulls taught him to intercept and we can all see what has happened to him now. The Stormers taught him to be a show pony. He never leaked tries when he played for the Lions. Makes you think ne!!!!!

  • LABRAT - 2010-08-31 16:08

    Habana just needs time out and there is no doubt that he is a great wing and his form will come back, but it is really time to try some youngsters in preparation of the world cup. What about van den Heever? Spies to be replaced WP #8 immediately!

  • BPJ - 2010-08-31 16:23

    Habana is past tense, in fact he was never great, unless he got the ball with an open tryline.

  • KingKong - 2010-08-31 16:55

    Habana is not playing up to standard for the past two and a half years. How many chances must het get ???>..Plz get rid of him...NOW !!!!

  • Panjo Parks - 2010-08-31 17:01

    Habana stil in the team? Like cricket ....I smell a rat !!

  • Roelien - 2010-08-31 17:14

    I agree with most people's comments about habana - he is USELESS and has been for the last 3 years. All he wants to do is to intersept and then be the glory boy but he seems to forget he has to defend as well.

  • phil - 2010-08-31 17:34

    I got a shock when I heard Bjorn Basson is in 13 tries (in 8 games). That means he could smash the previous record of 19 tries in a season... Why not bring him into the Bok setup. But it seems he does not play bad enough to be seen as a "quota". At least he will play for the Cheetahs in the S15 next year...

  • Caleb - 2010-08-31 18:19

    @Cliff Bradley: Did that comment really make you feel smart? I think not.

  • ben - 2010-08-31 18:29

    Habana must have some dirt on PDV. Habana if playing soccer would kick the ball into his own goal net.

  • Koos - 2010-08-31 21:27

    I have to agree with everyone here, the Stormers aka Western Province knows hoe to get the worst out of any player. Give Habana a few more games with some Bulls team mates and he will be his good old self again. Sheesh, SA need to get rid of this Stormer-Loosing mentality!

  • ziwi - 2010-08-31 22:43

    Spies is over-rated or has been marked out of the game, he's pretty good at running sideways thou, put kanko on!!

  • Happybloke - 2010-09-01 05:32

    @ Now Open your eyes the fetcher is Jaun Smith due to the fact that he plays well gives Spies and Burger the opportunity to play there hard running game. Yip Janaury can go, Bismark okey but they need Gary Botha there, Chillyboy well in respect to the game he is just an subsitude keeping the bench warm and maybe an impack player the last 10-15 minuites. Habanna will bounce back, and Lions supporters Habanna did play for the Lions but he was developt by the Bulls so that he could wear the green and gold, sorry to take your lights out. Danie back so what Flip should been picked a head of danie on current form. Steyn Frans will show the Aussies how he can play.

  • @ scrum cap - 2010-09-01 07:01

    If the springboks gave the Wallabies a 'klap' (what ever that means) then the ABs completely an utterly embarrassed the pathetic bok side 3 times over. Good analysis muppett!!

  • haha - 2010-09-01 07:52

    PDV + Smit + Banana + Januarie + Ralepelle = QUOTAS

  • Laeveld Springbok - 2010-09-01 07:59

    Habana has not been the same player since he was out paced by Ngwenya in the 2007 WC. That gave his confidence a huge knock and he hasn't recovered since. He hardly tries to run around players anymore because he lacks the self belief that he can actually get around them. Have a look at how he played in 2007. Now he's form is not even a shadow of what it was then and it all comes down to confidence. I believe he still has what it takes, somebody just give him a PK and tell him to wake up.

  • @Cliff Bradley - 2010-09-01 08:07

    ...typical stormbarian k@k attitude... ....losers....

  • Emile - 2010-09-01 09:04

    PDV uses Habana to keep the attention away from January. This naturally means that when January is on the field, we are actually playing with 13 men.

  • Megabull - 2010-09-01 09:59

    I feel sorry for Habana. I blame weerprobeer for his form. Send him back to the Bulls and before the end of the CC he will be his old winning self...... Habana you are still 'n hero just in the wrong provincial colours. Please Houggie give Habana the ball for a try so the record thing can get behind us........... P.S. @ cilff go play with yourself!

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