Bryan Habana may have been jeered by Springbok supporters this year, but his team-mates never doubted his ability as a rugby player.
Stephen Nell – Sport24
“It’s different when you’re someone’s team-mate to sitting at home, drinking brandy and booing. Bryan’s record of 38 tries in 66 Tests, as well as all the tries that he has scored at Super14 level, speaks for itself,” said Western Province captain Schalk Burger.
“I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Bryan to be treated in that manner. People will realise in time how good he is. We never doubted his ability.”
Habana was at his best in WP’s 31-7 win in their Currie Cup semi-final win over Free State Cheetahs on Saturday.
He scored the first try of the game after Adriaan Fondse had won the ball at a ruck.
After that he also plucked his own kick from the air and got the ball to Gio Aplon for the try that made the score 31-0 with 12 minutes left to play.
Habana also looked full of running in the previous week’s league match against the Sharks after undergoing a month-long conditioning programme with the other contracted Springboks.
It followed a nightmare Tri-Nations in which Habana struggled with basic skills such as catching in a weak Bok side.
WP coach Allister Coetzee heaped praise on Habana for his role in the victory.
“It’s good to see Bryan finish like that again. The saying that form is temporary and class is permanent applies here,” said Coetzee.
He believes the break was good for Habana.
“Bryan could settle down again and speak to people close to him about other things,” said Coetzee.
“It’s important to be able to switch off and to be able to handle criticism. It will be to your disadvantage if you take everything personally.”
Coetzee praised his team for an “all-round performance”, but also mentioned how well the backline did to beat Free State Cheetahs’ defence.
“We had to handle Free State’s rush defence. The backs did well to keep the ball and ultimately create space. We scored a few excellent tries.”
One of South African rugby’s biggest heroes regained his form in the process.
Habana was also included in a preliminary Springbok training squad on Saturday, suggesting that he is in the plans for next month’s tour of Britain and Ireland.
He will then have the opportunity of becoming the alone record-holder for most Test tries for South Africa. He currently shares the record of 38 with former Bok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen.