Bryan Habana will on Saturday become the fourth Springbok and 33rd player overall to play in 100 Tests when South Africa take on Australia in the third round of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship at Patersons Stadium in Perth (kickoff 12h05 SA time).
The 31-year-old Habana, who made his debut for South Africa against England at Twickenham on 20 November 2004, holds the record for the most Test tries in a Springbok jersey. His 56 Test tries places him fourth on the list of all-time international try scorers.
The three-time South African Rugby Player of the Year (2004, 2007 and 2012), who was also named the IRB Rugby Player of the Year in 2007, will lead the Springboks out on Saturday as he follows Percy Montgomery, John Smit and Victor Matfield in amassing 100 Tests in the green and gold.
“This is an unbelievable achievement by Bryan, who is someone every South African can be immensely proud of,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“Bryan is a true professional and someone who never gives anything but his best, on the field and off it. For him to reach this magnificent milestone is just reward for years of dedication and hard work.
“Apart from scoring tries and always giving 100% on the field, Bryan is also a humble servant to the game and a true ambassador for his family, his friends and his country. He will go down in history as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.
“He is always looking for improvement – I’ve never seen him play a bad game in the Springbok jersey.”
In total, the starting line-up shows six changes from the team which beat Argentina in Salta recently. Jan Serfontein and Morne Steyn will start in the backline, while Marcell Coetzee, Victor Matfield, Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira have been included in the pack.
As a result of these changes, Bismarck du Plessis, Lood de Jager and Damian de Allende shift to the bench, while Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe and Pat Lambie will join the uncapped Warren Whiteley on the bench.
“We were always planning in moving our personnel around during the competition,” said Meyer.
“The only new player in the team is Warren, whom I’m very happy for and excited to see what he can do. He covers all three positions in the loose trio and can make an impact later in the game.
“It’s also good to see Pat back in the frame. He’s completed his comeback from a long-term injury and will provide necessary bench cover for flyhalf and fullback.
“Saturday’s Test against Australia will take a massive effort from every member of our squad. We’re not looking at their recent result against New Zealand and we know they will be a tough opponent.
“Similarly, we need to move on from our victories over Argentina, which are now in the past. This is a new challenge and one we have to overcome to stay alive in the competition.”
The Springbok team to face Australia in Perth is:
15 Willie le Roux – 17 Tests, 35 points
14 Cornal Hendricks – 5 Tests, 15 points
13 Jan Serfontein – 12 Tests, 5 points
12 Jean de Villiers (captain) – 98 Tests, 125 points
11 Bryan Habana – 99 Tests, 280 points
10 Morné Steyn – 58 Tests, 670 points
9 Ruan Pienaar – 78 Tests, 135 points
8 Duane Vermeulen – 21 Tests, 10 points
7 Marcell Coetzee – 18 Tests, 20 points
6 Francois Louw – 32 Tests, 25 points
5 Victor Matfield (vice-captain) – 113 Tests, 35 points
4 Eben Etzebeth – 25 Tests, 0 points
3 Jannie du Plessis – 56 Tests, 5 points
2 Adriaan Strauss – 36 Tests, 25 points
1 Tendai Mtawarira – 57 Tests, 10 points
16 Bismarck du Plessis – 62 Tests, 45 points
17 Trevor Nyakane – 5 Tests, 5 points
18 Marcel van der Merwe – 1 Test, 0 points
19 Lood de Jager – 5 Tests, 10 points
20 Warren Whiteley – uncapped
21 Francois Hougaard – 29 Tests, 20 points
22 Pat Lambie – 32 Tests, 68 points
23 Damian de Allende – 2 Tests, 0 points
• The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 725 Test caps (358 in the backline and 367 in the forwards), while there a further 136 caps worth of experience on the bench.
• South Africa and Australia have played each other 78 times since 1933, with the Springboks winning 44 Tests, losing 33 and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 1,501 points and 179 tries and conceded 1,357 points and 139 tries for an average score of 19-17.
• South Africa and Australia last met on 28 September 2013 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town, when the Springboks won 28-8.
• Bryan Habana will be playing in his 100th Test for South Africa, making him only the fourth Springbok in history to reach this milestone. The others are Victor Matfield (113), John Smit (111) and Percy Montgomery (102).
• Habana will also extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 98 Tests in this position and if he scores a try, will extend his record of 56 Test tries for South Africa as well as his Castle Lager Rugby Championship record of 18 tries and will extend his own SA record of nine career tries against Australia.
• Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 83 Tests in this position. He will also extend his own SA record of 46 Rugby Championship games and will captain South Africa for the 27th time – fourth behind John Smit (83), Gary Teichmann (36) and Francois Pienaar (29).
• Victor Matfield will extend his own record as the most capped Springbok in history (113 Tests). He will also be playing against Australia for the 25th time to become the sole holder of the record he shared with John Smit previously.
• Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 56 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, he will also extend his record of eight Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa. Steyn scored 137 points in his career against Australia, just three points short of Percy Montgomery’s record of 140 points. He will also extend his own career record for most conversions (16), most penalty goals (32) and most drop goals (3) against Australia.
• If he goes on and scores a try, Bismarck du Plessis will extend his own record of eight test tries for South Africa as a hooker.
• If he goes on Warren Whiteley will become Springbok No. 863.
• The referee is George Clancy of Ireland and this will be his ninth Test involving South Africa. In the previous eight South Africa have won six and lost two. His last Test was on 7 September 2013 in the corresponding game of last year’s tournament at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane when the Springboks beat the Wallabies 38-12.