Habana considering next move
July 9, 2009
Bryan Habana touches down in the second Test against The Lions © Getty Images
Springboks winger Bryan Habana is weighing up the merits of a move to the northern hemisphere.
The 26-year-old Bulls speedster, who scored a crucial try in the Springboks' dramatic second Test victory over The Lions in Pretoria, has been repeatedly linked with a switch to Europe with Top 14 outfit Bayonne reportedly leading the chase for his signature.
The Rugby World Cup winner, who was named the IRB Player of the Year in 2007, was a key player in the Bulls' march to the Super 14 crown earlier this year and as a result the time would now appear right for Habana to move. The player himself remains coy on his future plans but freely admits that he is tempted by the idea of plying his trade overseas.
"It's the one last challenge. Rugby is an international game and you could probably learn a few things overseas," Habana said. "I've got an opportunity now. My contract with The Bulls ends in October of this year.
"But there's a lot to take into consideration so I'll need to get the right people around me. I'll talk to guys who have played in Europe, like Victor Matfield and John Smit (his Springbok colleagues), and get their advice. And I'll speak to the coach and see what he expects of me leading up to the 2011 World Cup.
"So we'll take it step by step. I'm not going to take any hasty decisions. I've put a lot of effort into being a part of this series and I've put all thoughts of being offered new stuff in the back of my mind, but I'll probably get some time before the Tri-Nations to scan through some things and we'll probably make a decision in a few weeks or months.
"Whatever happens, I'm going to do what's best for myself and for South African rugby."
For the moment, though, Habana is just content to bask in the glory of the Springboks' 2-1 series win over the Lions, as well as his long overdue return to form. Indeed, he confessed that he has endured some dark days over the past year as he struggled to justify his reputation as the most lethal finisher in world rugby.
"I was speaking to Shane Williams (Wales winger) about how difficult it is to stay on top when you've been on top for a few years and I've said that the pressure I put on myself to succeed is the greatest pressure of all, so the last 12 months have been very difficult for me. I hadn't been contributing," he said.
"I went back training with The Bulls saying that I wanted to become one of the best players in the world again. I'm think I'm going in the right direction but I'm still not happy with where I'm at the moment. There's still a lot more effort required in the next couple of months to be rated up there as a great player. But I'm enjoying my rugby at the moment and that's probably the most important thing.
"There is still a lot more work to be done, though, so I'll carry on putting pressure on myself to become a better player."
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September