We caught up Bryan Habana last week, sadly missing from the South Africa squad touring the UK and Ireland this month, reflecting on the season that has just ended.
‘It’s not the worst time to be injured,’ he admitted, despite his obvious disappointment at not being involved in the three Springbok victories over Ireland, Scotland and England. ‘It has given me a chance to have a rest and a break since the Currie Cup final – there is just so much rugby these days that you need that rest.’
Habana looks back at the international season in a positive light. Whilst there has been much dissatisfaction and even disillusionment amongst Springbok fans, the record books will note seven wins from 12 matches since the Rugby World Cup, with two draws and just three defeats.
‘I’d rather be winning ugly than not winning, and finishing the season with another win gives us a nice December holiday. But we have been disappointed in the way we’ve played.’
Individually, Habana’s season has been another memorable one, returning to form after something of a slump in 2010 and 2011 and picking up the South African Player of the Year Award once again.
‘Awards and accolades are great, but I just want to make a contribution to the team I am in. In 2011, I was disappointed with my contribution, but this year I’ve tried to put that right, and that far outweighs individual trophies and the number of tries I’ve scored.’
‘There’s no greater feeling than drinking a beer out of a trophy with your mates, and we got to do that after the Currie Cup this year. That ranks up there as one of my greatest achievements, particularly when nobody gave us a chance before the match. We were huge underdogs going into that final.’
Habana is looking for more silverware on the domestic front in 2013, but wouldn’t confirm if he’d still be playing at the Rugby World Cup 2015. ‘I’m with the Stormers until 2014 and would dearly love to win a Super Rugby title. I just need to focus on improving as a player. I don’t know what Heyneke’s plans are, and there are a lot of young guys coming through, so I’ll take every year as it comes.’
‘I also want to help develop young players in South Africa. The ’95 team inspired me as a child to take up Rugby, and that’s what I want to do, particularly in a country like South Africa that needs it so much. I’ve been blessed with a talent from God and I want to use that to inspire young kids.’
Bryan Habana is an ambassador for world leading rugby brand Canterbury, official kit supplier to England Rugby and South Africa Rugby. Visit www.canterbury.com for more information.