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One last 'contribution' from Habana

Fri, 12 Jul 2013 13:28
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When I do eventually come back to SA it is going to be hard not to settle in Cape Town
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Record-breaking Springbok wing Bryan Habana has a World Cup winner's medal, two Super Rugby championships and a couple of Currie Cup titles. However, his desire for success has not diminished in the least bit.

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.

Coming at the end of a disappointing season, when the team failed to make the play-offs after having won the South African conference the previous two years, Habana hopes to make one last big contribution to the Cape Town franchise.

He said Saturday will not be about "spoiling the Bulls' party", it is the pride that is at stake.

"For me, personally, and the Stormers, it has been a disappointing season," Habana said, adding: "I haven't been able to contribute in getting us to the play-offs and my performances on the field haven't been of the standards I have set myself.

"I am looking forward to Saturday and hoping contributing to restoring some pride."

While the Stormers can make live unpleasant for their arch-rivals in this bog north-south derby - the Bulls need the win to secure top spot on the global standings and get home ground advantage in the play-offs - the wing said it is about putting pride back in the Stormers jersey.

"After three very good years of getting into the play-offs, it has been disappointing not getting over the final hurdle in your last season," Habana said.

"Obviously it is not going to be a fairytale ending. If you think about it, [the injured duo of] Joe Pietersen and Dewald Duvenhage have already played their last game for the Stormers," he said of other players departing Cape Town at the end of the season.

"It has been an amazing, wonderful journey [here in Cape Town] and one that I have enjoyed since day one - three wonderful years culminated in winning that Currie Cup last year, the first time in 11 years.

"Being in that Final, even though I only played 12 minutes, was really special.

"I had five great years at the Bulls and achieved remarkable success there.

"But Cape Town has been a special place.

"I am looking forward to the next three years [at Toulon in France] and when I do eventually come back to South Africa it is going to be hard not to settle here."

He rated Western Province's Currie Cup triumph last year as one of the highlights of his stay.

"Against all odds, having to fight back in an away semifinal against the Lions and pull off the win in the last minute of the game. Then, going down to Durban with a team written off against a highly rated Sharks team, that was pretty enjoyable.

"In a way it is sad that guys like Jean [de Villiers], Schalk [Burger] and Andries [Bekker], true Province stalwarts, haven't won a trophy yet.

"For me, having played with those guys, I realise how special that Currie Cup victory was."

He added that the friendships formed off the field have also been fantastic.

"It has been really fantastic to form those relationships - also with Allister [Coetzee, the head coach] and Fleckie [Robbie Fleck, backline coach], how they supported me when everybody else wrote me off.

"Losing to the Sharks in that [Super Rugby] home semifinal was one of the hardest games to take, because we thought we could go on and win it.

"Of the last nine years I've missed only two knock-out stages [2008 with the Bulls and this year with the Stormers].

"We had a lot of expectation this year and weren't able to deliver."

By Jan de Koning

* Don't miss the last take of our broad-ranging interview with Bryan Habana, when he discusses his thoughts on moving to Toulon.

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