You would think that Bryan Habana has done it all – a World Cup winner’s medal, International Rugby Board Player of the Year and a Super 14 gold medal. However, there is one very important prize missing from his collection…
Jan De Koning of Rugby 365 writes that the 25-year-old flyer readily admits that no collection can be complete without being able to say you have also won the Currie Cup and that is what is missing from Habana’s extraordinary list of achievements.
There is a curious parallel between Habana and retired Springbok prop Os du Randt – they won on the biggest stage of them all, the World Cup, long before claiming the most coveted domestic crown in South Africa.
Speaking to rugby365.com ahead of the Currie Cup Final between the Blue Bulls and Sharks in Durban on Saturday, the 43-Test veteran said that winning the Currie Cup remains a burning ambition.
Most of Habana’s Bulls and Bok teammates – players like Wynand Olivier, Fourie du Preez, Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw and Gurthrö Steenkamp – have tasted Currie Cup success.
However, Habana, who joined the Bulls in 2005, has played in only one domestic Final and was on the losing end.
And while there is “great excitement” all round ahead of Saturday’s Final, for Habana there is added motivation to produce something special.
“It is always very exciting to be part of a Final and I have been very fortunate to be part of a couple [Super 14 and World Cup], but this will be even more special because it is the Currie Cup,” he told rugby365.com.
“The 2005 game [Blue Bulls versus Cheetahs] was my first Currie Cup Final and that didn’t go down too well,” he said about a game in which he was yellow carded.
“We ended up giving away a 12-point lead to lose to the Cheetahs and they’ve had the Cup in Bloemfontein for the last three years.
“I also haven’t played Currie Cup rugby since then, so I was really happy to get some form back [this year] and play in the Currie Cup competition with guys like Fourie du Preez, who is playing unbelievable rugby, and somebody like Wynand [Olivier], who is playing exceptionally well at the moment.”
He added that the build-up to this game is even bigger than the hype that surrounded the Super 14 Final between the two teams at the same Absa Stadium last year.
“We had such a great run in the Super 14 [last year], beating the Reds 92-3 and beating the Crusaders for the first time in a semifinal.
“Now, going down to Durban again, it is very exciting.
“What makes this so much more exciting – after being part of winning the Super 14 and after winning the World Cup – is that so many of those players [World Cup Boks] are playing against each other this weekend.
“In the Currie Cup there is a lot more passion and a lot more tradition.
“Add to that the fact that the two best teams in South Africa are going head-to-head and I can see amazing fireworks on Saturday, come half-past-four Durban time.”
He did not hide his desire to add that ‘missing link’ to his list of accolades.
“Without a doubt, there is still a very strong desire to win a Currie Cup,” he told this website.
“One of the most amazing things, growing up as a boy in South Africa – and yes, there are tournaments like the World Cup and Super 14 – is that you grow up in that Currie Cup tradition.
“There are teams like the Lions, Cheetahs, the Bulls, Province and the Sharks and it is an absolute honour, it is just such an amazing tradition.
“With such a history in South African rugby, every boy dreams of what it feels like [to win the Currie Cup].
“There was a great run in the Currie Cup by the Bulls and then I came here and they lost it after three years.
“A lot of the guys have tasted [Currie Cup] success and know what it is like to hold that trophy, but for someone like me who hasn’t, that drive is just unbelievably urgent.
“It is just amazing to think that you could be part of something so special.”
He said the reason he left the Lions in 2005 to join the Bulls was “to become part of a winning culture”.
“I also wanted to become part of a team that was so successful in winning the Currie Cup three years in a row under Heyneke Meyer.
“Now, to see those same guys, the amount of passion and energy they have, to want to achieve and win the Currie Cup, not just to the players but also the Blue Bulls union.
“With the energy they give out, it is very easy for me to ride on that wave.
“It makes it more exciting and I hope to lend a helping hand and make a huge contribution on Saturday.”Tweet