International Rugby Board (IRB) Players of the Year Bryan Habana wants to take his game to a new level and retain his crown as the best player in the world for the next few years.
Hannes Nienaber writes for Rugby 365 that Habana’s first opportunity to put his money where his mouth is, so to speak, comes in Bloemfontein on Saturday when he confronts Welsh flyers Shane Williams and Mark Jones.
The Welsh wings, Williams and Jones, are going to be difficult to contain, but the world’s most prolific try-poacher says he is up for the job.
“Shane Williams is a world class player, he has been a consistent try-scorer for the Welsh and we’ll have to shut him down early,” Habana said, adding: “But I’m looking forward to Saturday. I’m a senior player now [in the Bok squad] and I must step up.”
The 24-year-old Habana, who has scored 30 tries in 36 Tests since his debut against England in 2004, also had praise for Jones – who will be his direct opponent on Saturday.
“He [Jones] is a very hard and physical player, so it’s going to be a tall order, but one I look forward to.
“I faced him in Cardiff [in November] last year and there is no doubt I will have to be on top of my game,” the Bok flyer said.
Habana made it clear that he was not happy with his Super 14 form this year and said that he is looking not only for a higher standard of play, but also more consistency as the international season gets underway.
“I don’t want to be one of the best [players] in the world for a year or two, I want to be at the top for five or six year … such as players like Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Tana Umaga,” Habana said.
“The motivation to be the best in the world will always be there for me and it is an unbelievable privilege to get up every morning and know that I am part of the Springbok team,” the wing said.
Habana felt the new Bok backline – which sees the return of Adi Jacobs after a six-year absence, Tonderai Chavhanga and Jean de Villiers – is an exciting prospect.
“There is no doubt we are capable of scoring tries if afforded the opportunity,” Habana said, adding that the inclusion of fellow World Cup winners like Butch James and Percy Montgomery (on the bench) will play a big role in the encounter with the Six Nations champions.
“I am really excited by the inclusion of Butch [James], because I saw some of his games for [English club] Bath and he played really well [in the European and English competitions]. To get his experience back in the Bok set-up is very exciting.
“Jean de Villiers had a great Super 14 and a player like Adi [Jacobs], back after six years, will also bring something new to the team. I am also very excited about our back three – Tonderai [Chavhanga], Conrad [Jantjes] and I.
“We obviously won’t throw the ball around willy-nilly, but I am very excited about the qualities of this backline,” Habana said.
Habana, despite a reduced capacity as the result of an unfinished grand stand – which is being rebuilt for the 2010 Soccer World Cup – still feels that Bloemfontein’s Vodacom Park could be a strong sally to the Boks.
“I really enjoy playing in Bloemfontein and I have some fond memories of the venue,” he said of his two tries scored in the Boks’ 58-10 rout of England last year.
“Hopefully I can make another big contribution to the team,” he added.Tweet