Ha­bana ad­mits con­tract con­cerns at Toulon

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

MI­LAN — Toulon star Bryan Ha­bana has re­vealed his fu­ture with the French Top 14 side will de­pend on fu­ture com­mit­ments with South Africa as he looks to­wards a pos­si­ble am­bas­sado­rial role in the game fol­low­ing re­tire­ment.

Fly­ing wing Ha­bana earned his 124th cap and scored the game’s open­ing try for two-time World Cup win­ners South Africa on Satur­day in an his­toric 20-18 de­feat to Italy in Florence.

The Spring­boks’ first de­feat to the Six Na­tions’ peren­nial un­der­achiev­ers in 13 at­tempts was their sixth test re­verse in seven out­ings and, un­sur­pris­ingly for such a proud rugby na­tion, left coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee hang­ing by a thread.

It was Coet­zee, Ha­bana said, who con­vinced the for­mer World Cup win­ner that he has sev­eral years left in a Boks jer­sey as they look to build a team ca­pa­ble of chal­leng­ing for the 2019 World Cup in Ja­pan.

Although al­ready “look­ing to­wards the end of my ca­reer” when he hopes to “play a part in see­ing rugby be­come a truly global game”, the 2007 world player of the year says he has plenty left in the tank.

“My body’s feel­ing rather good,” Ha­bana told a small group of me­dia in Florence ahead of the Boks’ lat­est Novem­ber test re­verse.

But the 33-year-old cross­roads.

De­spite a con­tract is at a clause al­low­ing him to com­mit to South Africa, Ha­bana feels the French club which is owned by comic book mag­nate Mourad Boud­jel­lal “prob­a­bly aren’t happy with me”.

“My con­tract with Toulon ends next year, I’m cur­rently in ne­go­ti­a­tions but we’ll see where the next six to eight months takes me,” said Ha­bana, who won the Top 14 cham­pi­onship in 2014.

“Over the last few years I’ve missed 32 weeks of rugby, given that I’ve played rugby cham­pi­onships, so I un­der­stand their frus­tra­tion.

“I’m not in­volved in their first part of the sea­son. So it will be some­thing I take into con­sid­er­a­tion (when con­sid­er­ing my in­ter­na­tional fu­ture).”

Ha­bana, who would not con­firm his com­mit­ment to the 2019 World Cup, said SA Rugby pol­icy on how over­seas-based play­ers fit into the sys­tem would be also be a fac­tor.

“Yes, it is some­thing,” added Ha­bana. “When I moved to Toulon back in 2013 they knew that my de­sire to play for my coun­try was first and fore­most above any­thing so it’s stip­u­lated in my con­tract.

“SA rugby is in an in­ter­est­ing pe­riod in terms of the ad­min­is­tra­tive and gov­ern­men­tal poli­cies.

“There’s a lot of de­bate that needs to hap­pen. For us as play­ers, at the end of the day we just want the best 15 or 23 play­ers wear­ing the Spring­bok jer­sey.

“Hope­fully we’ll trust the pow­ers that be to make the right call in terms of what kind of pro­to­col or obli­ga­tions need to hap­pen.”

One thing Ha­bana doesn’t want is to be­come a to­ken player for the Boks.

Asked about the 2019 World Cup, he said: “I said af­ter the last World Cup it all de­pends on the form I’m putting on the field, that first of all war­rants my se­lec­tion.

“I don’t want to be picked for the Spring­boks just be­cause I’m Bryan Ha­bana. 2019 is quite a way away.”

But thoughts of re­tire­ment, spend­ing more time with his fam­ily and work­ing on his golf hand­i­cap are al­ready tak­ing root.

“Rugby has given me so much but I’ve still got the rest of my life to live, I’ve got a fam­ily I have to look af­ter,” he said.

“I’d love to con­trib­ute. At the mo­ment there’s a lot of de­bate glob­ally, not just in SA rugby, in terms of global sea­sons, the way sea­sons are struc­tured, the num­ber of games we’re play­ing.

“So I can’t say for def­i­nite. I’d love to help out. Off the field, I’ve got one or two char­ity ini­tia­tives start­ing. Stuff where, off the field, I can con­tinue a legacy.

“That’s a conversation I’ll prob­a­bly have with my wife first.

“I told her I’d like to have a job work­ing as a sec­re­tary at her fit­ness stu­dio in Cape Town on a Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and a Fri­day and then I can play golf on a Tues­day and Thurs­day!” — AFP

Toulon star Bryan Ha­bana.

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