Meyer 'amazed' by Habana

2013-06-09 15:13
Bryan Habana (Gallo Images)
Durban - Heyneke Meyer was left “amazed and surprised” by Bryan Habana's pace after the veteran winger helped the Springboks begin their international season with a 44-10 victory over Italy at Kings Park, in Durban, on Saturday.

The Western Province wideman, playing in his 84th test for South Africa, scored a fine solo try and set up another for JJ Engelbrecht. The hosts outscored the tourists by five tries to one.

"I don’t know what the situation is with Bryan,” coach Meyer told the post-match press conference.

"What amazes me about Bryan is that sometimes I watch him play Super Rugby and he looks really ordinary, but then he pulls on the Bok jersey and he’s a different player.

"I thought he was awesome tonight. I was surprised to see his pace at one stage, but when Bryan plays well, the team plays well.

"He’s always played great rugby for me and I’m very thankful for that."

Adriaan Strauss and Engelbrecht both crossed the whitewash inside the first 23 minutes. The Springboks had to wait until the final quarter to close out the win after an Italian fightback saw the score cut to 23-10 with 15 minutes to play.

But man-of-the-match Habana’s sizzling speed then saw him collect a pass out wide, cut inside cleverly, shrug off some half-hearted tacklers and race in for the third try -- and his 48th for his country.

Captain Jean de Villiers and Bjorn Basson added further tries to give the scoreline a slightly flattering look.

"I thought we got loose at one stage," Meyer said.

"Italy fought back well and I wasn't surprised. They've really improved and are a quality side and they deserve to be credited.

"They’ve played against some of the best sides in the world and haven’t conceded a lot of tries."

But the Springbok boss was nonetheless pleased with the team's overall showing, particularly with many inexperienced men in the match. Willie le Roux, Jano Vermaak, Arno Botha, Jan Serfontein and Trevor Nyakane were all on debut, while Engelbrecht won just his second cap.

"It’s always tough the first game when there’s a lot of nerves," he said.

"But I really thought they played well. I thought JJ and Bjorn, who hadn’t played for some time, did well. Willie as well... and suddenly there’s a lot of pace in the backline, so I was very happy with the guys."

Most impressive for the coach, though, was the backline.

"They showed some great touches and there’s a lot for us to build on from here."

There was one major injury setback for the Boks after Vermaak picked up a hamstring injury late in the game.

"Jano’s situation isn’t good and he is probably out of the rest of the series," Meyer added.

The Blue Bulls scrumhalf has subsequently been replaced by uncapped Free State Cheetahs number nine Piet van Zyl.

Read more on:    springboks  |  bryan habana  |  durban ­  |  rugby

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk


Springbok coach Allister Coetzee remains defiant, saying he won't resign despite a shambolic two years at the helm. Your thoughts?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.