Bryan Habana has rediscovered his smile and is promising a big season after the disappointments of last year.
“Yes, 2008 was not the best the rugby world saw of me,” admitted Habana. “There were a lot of expectations, there were injuries and frustrations off the field. Ultimately I was in a difficult position and I did not enjoy my rugby as much as I should have.”
JJ Harmse writes for Rapport that apart from his injuries he was constantly linked with French clubs and consequently his loyalty was questioned. However, his try against England at Twickenham was all he needed to regain his focus.
“I wanted to use that tour to justify the faith people placed in me. Peter de Villiers, Dick Muir and Frans Ludeke kept encouraging me and I wanted to make it special for them. Things went well and not so well against Wales, and worse than ever against Scotland …”
Habana felt he was not doing his bit. “To score only one try throughout the year for the Springboks was simply not acceptable, but the coaches kept supporting me. That try against England swept away all the frustrations and pressure of the year, even though JP Pietersen could probably have scored it himself,” said Habana.
The enjoyment of that try made Habana realised what was lacking. Habana played with a big smile for the Barbarians a week later and when he pitched for the Bulls’ training camp in George it was the start of the “new” Bryan.
“I have never worked as hard as I did there. It has never been as much fun because guys like Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha worked as hard. Pierre Spies came back from his honeymoon and gave his all,” said Habana.
Habana rediscovered his focus and his engagement also brought a calmness. “I set myself certain goals four years ago. Success in the World Cup and against the British and Irish Lions were at the top of the list. I also wanted to win the Super 14 and Currie Cup. The Lions is the remaining goal,” said Habana.
Habana has trained harder than ever, aware that he has to set an example. “I increasingly started enjoying it. Suddenly all the frustrations were gone. After training I could spend time away from the game with Janine (his fiancée),” he said.
Habana is back on Sherylle Calder’s Eyethink Programme and Bulls conditioning chief Basil Carzis said he is faster and stronger than ever.
That is the Bryan Habana that will run onto the field for the Bulls this coming week. Not only will he take his primary task of scoring tries very seriously, but he’ll also attempt to lift his teammates with his general and support play.
“Statistics tell you what players do on the field, but I also want to do that little extra to ensure we are all the best we can be,” said Habana.
There is a celebrity aspect to his career, but Habana does not want it. “I don’t see myself as one. I have a talent and must use it. I’m living my dream and have a passion for life. If I can make a difference through that in a unique country, it’s a responsibility I will embrace,” he said.Tweet