Rugby Championship

Breyton: Habana can persevere for Boks

2016-10-07 17:00
Breyton Paulse (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Fellow-Springbok wing Breyton Paulse is unworried about the possibility that Saturday could mark Bryan Habana’s swansong appearance in a Test on South African soil.

As reported on Sport24 earlier, the veteran Habana earns his 123rd cap when the Boks tackle arch-rivals the All Blacks at Kings Park and with no further home internationals to follow in 2016, there must be at least some risk that the legendary, record try-scorer - he turns 34 next June, and being foreign-based may also become an increasing impediment - is playing his final Test in the country of his birth.

But Paulse, now a SuperSport pundit and having shared the Bok dressing room with Habana in his own closing years as a Test star, believes “the end is not there yet” for the incumbent, scheduled to mark Israel Dagg from his berth back on the left wing (after a spell on the right) in Durban.

“I believe Bryan’s experience has been priceless this year, especially as he has often been surrounded by guys with no more than seven or eight Test caps to show,” he said on Friday.

“He has a wealth of knowledge to aid the process of taking this team forward; you just can’t field an all-rookie backline at international level.

“It’s clear enough that he still has the hunger, and remember that even the very best of players will make the odd mistake in certain games.

“People have written him off before, including in that two-year period some time back when he went a bit off his game – yet he bounced back a new, revitalised player.”

Paulse says an additional factor helping Habana’s longevity is that he is a devoted athlete who keeps his body in tiptop shape.

“He reminds me of Percy Montgomery, who also played to a good age, as the ultimate professional, never shying away from hard work.

“So let’s not chase Bryan away; he could still offer a lot in 2017, I think.”

 *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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