KSA Shark ©

The real Habana is back

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :Bulls, Currie Cup, In the news on 17 Sep 2008 at 20:13

Wynand Olivier has backed his Blue Bulls and Springbok teammate Bryan Habana to return to his brilliant best, also revealing what is behind the IRB Player of the Year’s current slump in form after the Bok flyer and International Rugby Board (IRB) Player of the Year was named on Wednesday to start in his first Currie Cup game of the season.

Rugby 365 reports that the Bulls take on the defending champion Free State Cheetahs in a must-win Round 12 fixture in Bloemfontein and Habana has returned to the side after recovering from a succession of injuries.

Olivier, speaking in an online chat on the Bulls’ website, revealed that the injuries may have been a contributing factor to Habana’s below par performances – by his own lofty standards – this year.

The injury setbacks started back in February when Habana sustained a rib injury in a pre-season game against the Lions in Windhoek, before he damaged his shoulder in the opening round of the Super 14 competition against the Stormers at Newlands.

The shoulder injury continued to trouble him throughout the year.

However, more setbacks were to follow. The star of last year’s World Cup-winning Bok team suffered a knee injury in the Test against Wales in June and after having worked his way back to some sort of fitness, the wing then damaged his hamstring during the Boks’ 0-19 whitewash at the hands of New Zealand at Newlands last month. The ‘grade one tear’ ruled him out for the remainder of the Tri-Nations as well as several weeks of Currie Cup action.

However, Habana was declared fit by Bulls doctor Org Strauss on Tuesday and will look to regain the form that made him such a big hit on the World Cup stage last year.

Olivier was quick to defend Habana’s patchy form this year when asked about the star wing in his online chat.

“Bryan has been struggling with some injuries and even though it’s been a while since he has played [August 16], once he starts playing he will be back to his best in no time,” Olivier said.

Olivier was also asked about the possibility of Habana moving off his wing into the midfield, to form a partnership with Olivier.

“We played together as a centre combination in two games for the South African Under-21 team and it went very well back then,” Olivier said of his combination with the Bok flyer back in 2004

However, Olivier felt it may not be a good move for Habana to change positions again.

“It would be interesting to see how we go as a centre combination, but he is the best wing in the world and I’m not sure it would be a good idea to play him out of position,” Olivier added.

Olivier also touched on the Bulls’ trip to Bloemfontein, which he said will be a “very tough game”, despite the Cheetahs having lost their last few games.

“It is always a tough game against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and I think it is going to be a very physical battle,” he added.

* Meanwhile Bulls coach Frans Ludeke confirmed the selection of both Habana and fellow Bok Danie Rossouw in his starting XV for Saturday’s trip to Bloemfontein.

Rossouw will scrum down in the second row alongside Victor Matfield, who also returns after resting last week and takes over the captaincy from Wikus van Heerden.

Specialist openside flank Deon Stegmann was recalled and will partner Van Heerden at the side of the scrum, while Pierre Spies takes Dewald Potgieter’s place at No.8.

Potgieter will be the loose forward reserve and as a result of Ludeke’s four/three bench there weren’t any room for Pedrie Wannenburg or Jacques Burger.

Jaco Engels was selected at loosehead prop, following Gurthrö Steenkamp’s hand fracture – suffered in last Friday’s rout against the Boland Cavaliers – and Marius Delport got the nod ahead of Wayne Julies as Olivier’s centre partner.

Blue Bulls: 15 Tiger Mangweni, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Marius Delport, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Rayno Gerber, 2 Derick Kuün, 1 Jaco Engels.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Juandré Kruger, 19 Dewald Potgieter, 20 Heini Adams, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Zane Kirchner.


  • I am so chuffed that Vic is leading the boys again, for a minute there I thought I might have been to conservative with my SB pick, but Matfield will sort that. 😉

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.09.08 20:20:48 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • So the real Habana in fact isn’t actually back 🙂

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.09.08 20:34:49 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • This isn’t his first cc start. He started against the sharks

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.09.08 20:44:13 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Did the real Habana ever go away?

    One can hardly blame his form in the 3N when he had the likes of Beast, Bekker, Watson, Spies pilfering ball from him on the wing…

  • Comment 4, posted at 18.09.08 05:11:48 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 4) : A lot of players in a lot of teams nowadays hang around on the wing, yet the truly great wings still perform. I am NOT saying Habana is not a truly great wing, I am saying 1) We are utilising him the wrong way and 2) his form is not what it used to be, for whatever reason.

    It is a bit like the AB’s used to utilize the GREAT Jona Lomu in totally the wrong way. As good as he was for instance, he could have been ten times better.

  • Comment 5, posted at 18.09.08 06:39:13 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • @Silver Fox (Comment 5) :

    I disagree… nothing illustrates the point more than in the final minutes before Habana was injured… ball heading for Habana at speed, Beast plucks the ball out of his hands and breaks down the sideline only to be hauled in Habana screaming for the ball, Beast goes down, Habs has to physically take the ball off the grounded player… and from a stop start with only inches to spare procedes to make majic out of nothing… just clipping the touchline…

    A sure try for the winger had he received the quick ball and perhaps a match changer…

    Look back into those games… on a further three occasions, similar events occurred with Watson, Bekker and I forget the other forward stealing Habana’s ball…

    This forces the wing to cut in a ‘find’ ball, making more tackles and doing more tight work… go figure!

  • Comment 6, posted at 18.09.08 08:54:40 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 6) : I don’t know why you disagree, for that is precisely what I meant by we are not utilising him in the correct way. As in giving him lots of ball out wide from decent backline moves from the backs.

    Only I also find to commit more players to the breakdown more quickly a very important factor, and if it is his turn to be involved, so be it. Reason tells me all the breakdowns will not always be where he is and if we can get enough quick ball and sent it quickly to Habana, he will scores heaps of tries.

  • Comment 7, posted at 18.09.08 12:34:03 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox

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