Experienced Springbok wing Bryan Habana will join the Springbok Sevens squad in Stellenbosch on Tuesday following an agreement with his French club side, Toulon, SA Rugby confirmed on Monday.
Habana will be available for selection for the next two rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, in the USA and Canada. The popular Las Vegas tournament takes place from 4 to 6 March and will be followed by the inaugural event in Vancouver on 12 and 13 March.
The 2007 Rugby World Cup winner and most prolific South African Test try scorer made his only two Springbok Sevens appearances in 2004, in Wellington and Los Angeles, a couple of months before his Springbok Test debut.
Neil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, described Habana’s availability for the next two rounds of the World Series as a fantastic development for his squad.
“Bryan is an unbelievable rugby player and his outstanding playing record and achievements in the Springbok jersey speaks for itself,” said Powell. “I am really excited by the prospects of him joining our training squad.”
According to Powell, Habana will add something special to his already powerful squad. “Bryan is one of those players that always has a lot of energy. Apart from that, he brings with him a lot of experience of playing rugby at the very top level, so in that sense his presence in the squad will also be a great motivational factor for our guys,” added Powell.
“I can tell you Bryan is very eager to learn. He realises that it’s been a very long time since he last played Sevens, but he is excited by this challenge and really looking forward to be part of our system.”
Meantime, Powell’s squad was further boosted by the return to action of four experienced players. Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Cecil Africa and Justin Geduld have all returned to full training after recovering from their respective injuries.
Powell will name his 12-man squad this coming Thursday for the two-week trip to North America. The squad will fly out to Las Vegas on Friday evening.
Brief player profile of Bryan Habana:
Springbok number: 766
Test debut: 20 November 2004 vs England in London, aged 21
Total Tests: 117
Tour matches: 4
Total Springbok matches: 121
· Holds Springbok record for tries in Tests for South Africa (64) and for most tries overall as a wing (64).
· Most capped Springbok wing (116).
· Record-holder for most tries in a career in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (19).
· Honours: SA Rugby Player of the Year (2012, 2007 & 2005); Young Player of the Year (2004); IRB Rugby Player of the Year (2007); Vodacom Rugby Super 12 Player of the Tournament (2005); SuperSport Try of the Year (2005, Vodacom Bulls vs Blues in Pretoria; 2007, Vodacom Bulls vs Sharks in the Super 14 Final in Durban; and 2012, South Africa vs New Zealand in Dunedin).
· Scored a record equalling eight tries during RWC 2007.
· Equalled Jonah Lomu’s record of 15 tries in all RWC games in 2015 in England.