Rugby Championship

Habana recalls epic Bok career

2014-09-03 15:30
Bryan Habana (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Ahead of his 100th Test, Springbok wing Bryan Habana says it’s been a massive honour to represent his country over an extended period.

Habana will become the fourth Springbok and 33rd player overall to play in 100 Tests when South Africa take on Australia in the third round of the Rugby Championship in Perth on Saturday.

The 31-year-old, who made his international debut against England at Twickenham on 20 November 2004, holds the record for the most Test tries in a Springbok jersey. His 56 Test tries places him fourth on the list of all-time Test try-scorers.

The three-time South African Rugby Player of the Year (2004, 2007 and 2012), who was also named the IRB Rugby Player of the Year in 2007, will lead the Springboks out on Saturday as he follows Percy Montgomery, John Smit and Victor Matfield in amassing 100 Tests.

"Playing in my 11th season of senior professional rugby, time really has flown by," Habana told the MyPlayers website. "It was an enormous privilege and dream come true to get to wear the Springbok jersey for the first time back in 2004. And getting the first one, you want to play two, and then 10 and then 20 and then 50, Being able to get an opportunity to play 100 Tests for your country has truly been a massive privilege and honour.

"Through the up and the downs, the good times and bad, it has been an unforgettable journey that I will forever treasure. Hopefully, there will still be more Tests after the 100-mark and when my international career does eventually come to an end, that I can look back and be proud that I have left the jersey in a better state than when I received it 10 years ago.

"I am immensely grateful, first of all, for the talent that I have been blessed with from God to be able to play this wonderful game. I am grateful to my wife, Janine, for her unwavering support throughout my career, to my family and friends, to my coaches and fellow team-mates who have been there throughout my career."

Habana added that he has goals that he wants to achieve in the short- and long-term. He hopes to help guide the Springboks to the Rugby Championship title this year, while he's aiming for World Cup and Olympic Sevens selection in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

"I definitely want to contribute to helping the Boks win the next couple of Tests and hopefully win the Rugby Championship," said Habana. "I would also like to be playing a standard of rugby over the next year or so that sees me being selected for the World Cup in England as I would love to be a part of a Springbok team to win another World Cup. I believe that the current team has the potential to go on and do this.

"With rugby sevens becoming an Olympic Sport in 2016, that could be something to aim towards, but at the moment I am fully focused on contributing to Toulon and hopefully the Springboks for the next two seasons."

Speaking about life in France, Habana explained that being based at Toulon since 2013 has had it highs and lows, on and off the field. It's added something special to his career.

"My first season in France despite ending as well as it did with Toulon winning the double was rather frustrating for me personally as I was injured for five months of the season, which is the most that I have been injured in one entire season throughout my career," explained Habana. "I would've loved to contribute a lot more. Obviously, going on to win the double made the season end on a much higher note and seeing the reception we received on our return to Toulon after winning the Top 14 was absolutely insane.

"Being able to play alongside the likes of world-class players like Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ali Williams, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Steffon Armitage, Drew Mitchell, just to name the few, and getting to team up again with fellow South Africans Bakkies Botha, Juan Smith, Michael Claassens, Craig Burden, Joe van Niekerk and Danie Rossouw was truly amazing.

"Learning French as a language is much more difficult than initially thought and I am grateful that we have so many international stars in the team who can speak English. Living on the French Riviera is also quite an experience and it has made travelling, sightseeing and exploring Europe both wonderful and very easy."

Habana and his wife became parents to a son, Timothy Jacob, in June, which is another exciting chapter for the celebrated Springbok.

"Fatherhood has been absolutely amazing so far. Hard work at times, but so rewarding," said Habana. "It is tough though being away from home as much as we are and having to leave your wife and child alone as the little one changes so much every day.

"It is just such a wonderful miracle and blessing, and you feel a love and bond like you never have experienced before. My wife and I are utterly grateful to God for our little healthy bundle of joy!"

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