I think I’m starting to recognise Bernie Habana’s modus operandi. If historical precedent is anything to go by, then Bryan Habana’s much publicised “exploratory talks” with Rassie Erasmus today will turn out to be nothing other than a ploy to get more money out of the Bulls.
Just to set the scene a little, it has been widely reported that Bok winger Habana, who comes off contract with the Bulls at the end of the season, will meet with Stormers supremo Rassie Erasmus in Cape Town today to discuss a potential move to the Cape next year. Bernie Habana, who is Bryan’s father and “representative” will also be in attendance, as will WP Rugby Managing Director Rob Wagner. Habana apparently has a written offer on the table to stay with the Bulls, as well as the typical slew of big-money deals from France. Habana Senior claims that they have nothing against which to compare the Bulls offer, hence the decision to try and up the ante by getting into negotiations with Wagner and Erasmus.
I wouldn’t get terribly excited about the prospect of Habana playing for the Stormers, fans. This manoeuvre has all the hallmarks of a typical Bernie-esque bluff, only the 2009 version sees WP as the patsy. In 2006, he pulled the same trick with the Sharks.
Nobody is quite sure what the legal basis is for Habana Senior’s actions. He claims to represent not only his son, but also Bakkies Botha and Wynand Olivier, yet he is not accredited as an official agent in the eyes of the national governing body. He has no recognised authority to negotiate on behalf of these players, yet seems to do so anyway. He was a central figure in the messy spat over Botha’s contractual dispute with the Blue Bulls last year, allegedly even threatening to encourage Olivier and Habana Junior to strike should the Bulls not annul a contract that Botha had signed to play for them until 2011.
Habana was also instrumental in a supposed 2006 coup that would have seen all three players join the Sharks for frankly ludicrous sums of money. It all turned out to be an elaborate ruse, though – the players never had any intention of leaving Pretoria and Habana played Rudolf Straueli like a fiddle, as he used the generous Sharks offers to force the Bulls to pay far more than they were offering in order to retain the services of all three players.
Like I said, Province fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too much about Habana. The trick has already worked once, with Wynand Olivier again being used as bait – this time dangled in front of the WP contracting team – only to recommit to the Bulls, no doubt for a substantially higher price than would otherwise have been on the table. Don’t be too surprised to see Habana Junior recommit to the Bulls in a few weeks time, for an absolutely record sum.
This after the Cape media cabal have worked themselves up into a froth about how potent their back line will be in next year’s super 14, having learned all sorts of “open secrets” from “reliable sources” that Habana’s move is a “done deal”. It’s all laughably predictable, isn’t it?Tweet