Habana expects fierce contest
June 5, 2012
South Africa wing Bryan Habana is the most capped player in the Springboks squad for the Tests with England © Getty Images
South Africa's Bryan Habana claims the Springboks will be ready to meet England's challenge in the first Test on Saturday despite only being in camp together for a matter of days.
The majority of Stuart Lancaster's England side have been together for almost two weeks, but Habana believes that the squad that new head coach Heyneke Meyer has named is already adapted to playing at Test level thanks to their involvement in Super Rugby.
"I don't think it gives them the upper hand," Habana said. "The experience they have had as a team together during the Six Nations and in their preparations over the last two weeks is definitely going to benefit them, but I don't think it is going to make a difference. On the other side of the coin we have got an unbelievably talented group of youngsters who want to go out there and show how good they are and how much they want to wear that Springbok jersey with pride. We understand the brutality of Super rugby - we have been toiling at it for the last 14 weeks, guys putting their bodies on the line. That might benefit us."
Habana is the most capped player in the Springbok squad with 74 caps, two more than newly appointed captain Jean De Villiers. The Stormers due will need to make their experience count in a new-look South Africa side that will be missing a number of familiar faces. Juan Smith and Schalk Burger are injured, while Fourie du Preez and Heinrich Brussow have been excluded from the squad.
Meyer's first squad as head coach contains nine uncapped players and six other with less than 10 appearances. Even so, Habana predicts the match will be the usual, bruising affair.
"Come Saturday afternoon at Kings Park stadium - I think it is going to be a real titanic clash," he said. "I think the team that is willing to put their bodies on the line and want it more will come out victorious. Seeing the vibe, the energy and the willingness of the guys at training was pretty enjoyable. There is a great energy, a great vibe, but that all comes to nothing if you don't go out and perform on Saturday."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Like the Treaty of Versailles, despite all the promises, the new Participation Agreement is certainly not the final solution." John Taylor writes
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league