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Habana: Stormers must 'rock up'

Thu, 11 Jul 2013 15:48
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Morné Steyn is probably playing the best rugby of his career
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The Stormers know what to expect from the Bulls in the big north-south Super Rugby derby on Saturday, but countering it is easier said than done.

The 30-year-old wing, who scored his record 50th try in his 86th Test against Samoa last month, will make his final appearance for the Stormers in the big north-south derby against the Bulls at Newlands on Saturday.

Then, just a week later, he boards a plane to Toulon in France - where he will make his first appearance in a warm-up game against Racing Metro on August 2.

But before that he will get to have one more go at a team he had plenty of success with during a five-year stint in Pretoria - winning two Super Rugby titles and a Currie Cup trophy.

The Bulls will arrive at Newlands on Saturday looking to get a win that will secure them first place on the standings, and all the benefits that go with it - as they chase a fourth Super Rugby title.

The Stormers, who have already conceded the South African Conference trophy to the Bulls (it will be handed over at Newlands), will hope to give Habana a winning send-off after four years of loyal service.

Habana admitted it will be another brutal encounter in the true tradition of this north-south derby.

"Looking at the season they have had, one has to take your hat off to the Bulls to have gone through the season and not having lost a game in South Africa," the Stormers and Bok flyer said.

"Having come back the way they did against the Sharks last Saturday [winning 20-19, after a missed kick in the last minute], you have to respect a team like that.

"I have been there and you know how hard those guys have been working on and off the field."

Habana said the Bulls have put themselves in a position where they can go on and win the competition, because victory at Newlands mean all their play-off matches will be at fortress Loftus in Pretoria.

"They are going to come down [to Cape Town] wanting to secure the points that will give them top spot [on the standings]," Habana said, adding: "It is going to be an unbelievably physical challenge."

The Stormers wing said everyone always say they know how the Bulls play and they know what's coming, but unfortunately you have to rock up and try and stop it.

"They are a team that proved - not only in the last year, but the last 10 years - that even though you think you know what is coming, you still have to arrive and try and stop it.

"That is going to be the challenge for us as a team this weekend is to actually pitch up.

"You can't just think: 'Full house at Newlands', you can't just think" 'The flags waving are going to make us win].

"We are going to have to apply our minds. Tactically we will have to be spot on in terms of our execution and decision-making.

"You are playing against Morné Steyn, who is probably playing the best rugby of his career at the moment and can tactically put you under a lot of pressure.

"Then you have forwards who are not going to stop running at you for 80 minutes.

They will have a physical presence on the field."

Despite the threats posed by the Bulls, Habana said he is pretty happy with where the Stormers are as a team.

"After a disappointing Australasian leg we have really come back and showed in the last four games that we do have something special going here," he said of their four-match winning streak.

"We are all looking forward to a massive north-south derby and we all know how big they've become over the last five years.

"Each and every player wants to go out there and do the jersey proud - hopefully us as seniors can lead from the front."

By Jan de Koning

* Don't miss the rest of our broad-ranging interview with Bryan Habana, when he also discusses his last game at Newlands (against the Bulls on Saturday), the highlights and disappointments during his four-year stint in Cape Town and his thoughts on moving to Toulon.

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