Habana glancing over his shoulder

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 09:26
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Bryan Habana speaks about what it means to him to become the fourth player to feature in 100 Tests for South Africa.

Bryan Gary Habana is an institution in the Springbok team and in Perth on Saturday he will become the fourth player to feature in 100 Tests for South Africa.

Speaking ahead of the Boks' Rugby Championship encounter with Australia, he made it clear that he is not taking the No.11 jersey for granted.

In fact Habana said there are young players - both in the team and back home - pushing him hard.

"You never take your place in the team for granted," Habana told a media scrum in Perth.

"Not only the talent we have in this team, but you look [back] in South Africa, with a fellow like Seabelo Senatla," he said of the Sevens Bok and Western Province flyer - who has been a sensation in both the abbreviated and 15-man games this year.

He described the past 11 years, since his debut against England at Twickenham in 2004, as "an incredible journey: and something he was "very privileged" to be part of.

"The journey has been one I enjoyed each step of the way, the good and bad times," he said, adding that he believes he has another couple of years left in him.

Habana also said the focus should not be on his milestone, but rather for the Boks to continue improving - after disappointing performances in the opening rounds of the Rugby Championship, which saw them sneak a 13-6 victory in Pretoria and an even more fortuitous 33-31 win in Salta a week later.

"It's obviously very special for me to reach this milestone, but this weekend isn't about me," the Bok wing said, adding: "It's about the team and what we want to achieve.

"I've been blessed with many highlights during my career and I'm very thankful for that, as well as the magnificent support I've received from my family, friends, teammates and coaches through the years.

"However, we have a job to do on Saturday and that remains the bottom line."

He said Australia are always tough to come up against and pointed to the fact that the Wallabies have won five of the last eight encounters between the two countries.

"That [record 38-12] win in Brisbane last year was one of the most enjoyable of my career," he said of facing the Wallabies.

"I have suffered a 0-49 defeat at the hands of the Wallabies in Brisbane," Habana said, adding that it would be "pretty awesome" to score his 10th try against the Wallabies in his 100th Test.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said he was "very proud" of Habana, whom he has coached since he was a youngster.

"I am very proud of the man he has become," Meyer said, adding: "He is an unbelievable ambassador for South Africa, not just on the field, but off the field as well."

BIO: Bryan Gary Habana
Date of birth: 12 June 1983
Place of birth: Benoni
School: King Edward VII School (KES)
Springbok no: 766
Debut Test province: Lions
Physical: 1.79m, 90kg
Current age: 31

Test summary: Tests: 99 Tries: 56
First Test: 20 November 2004 (age 21) - replacement against England at Twickenham, London
Last Test: 23 August 2014 (age 31) - left wing against Argentina at Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena, Salta

He attended Meredale Primary and King Edward VII School before enrolling at the University of Johannesburg (then still called the Rand Afrikaans University) in B.Sc (Information Technology).

He made his provincial debut for the Golden Lions in 2003, his Test debut a year later and played the first of his 118 Vodacom Super Rugby matches in 2005.

To date, Habana has amassed 99 Tests and scored 56 tries, a South African record. He scored his first Test try with his first touch of the ball in an international, against then Rugby World Cup champions England at Twickenham.

On 22 September 2011 he scored his 39th Test try, against Namibia, to surpass Joost van der Westhuizen as the most-prolific try scorer in Springbok history. His 50th Test try was scored against Samoa on 22 June 2013.

All but one of Habana's Test appearances have been on the wing - he played once at outside centre, against Ireland in 2006.

Honours and accolades:
* 2004: Springbok Sevens, SA Under-21, SA Young Player of the Year
* 2005: SA Rugby Player of the Year, Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year, Try of the Year (Vodacom Bulls v Blues in Pretoria)
* 2007: IRB Player of the Year, SA Rugby Player of the Year, scored eight tries at RWC to equal the record set by Jonah Lomu in 1995, Try of the Year (Vodacom Bulls v Cell C Sharks in Durban, Vodacom Super Rugby final)
* 2012: SA Rugby Player of the Year, IRPA Try of the Year (against New Zealand in Dunedin)