Bok ace Habana ready for last hurrah
SOUTH Africa try scoring legend Bryan Habana has given his broadest hint yet that this season will be the last of his illustrious career.
Currently recovering from the knee injury that kept him out of last season’s French Top 14 final, Toulon star Habana is targeting a return early next month but admits he may call it quits when his contract expires next June.
Habana, who has an incredible 67 tries to his name in 124 Test appearances, admits his hopes of a Springboks recall are now virtually zero and has already given up hope of appearing at a fourth World Cup at Japan 2019.
Speaking at a Rugby Centurions event in London last week, Habana, 34, told The Rugby Paper: “For me at the moment, it’s just about getting back on the field.
“My contract with
Toulon ends in June and I haven’t thought much further than that, but we’ll see how my body feels towards January/February time.
“Obviously I’ve had an unbelievable career and if this was to be my last season, I can’t really look back and complain about what I’ve had.”
Habana, a World Cup winner in 2007, added: “I probably won’t be involved in the Springboks again so for me it’s about taking it day-by-day, month-bymonth over the next eight months now to see where my career is going.
“Rugby’s given me so much and you want to go out on your own terms, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that given that the last few months have been rather frustrating injury-wise.
“I’m running again now and my predicted return from knee surgery is October 7, so I’ll get back on my feet and if there’s another year in it, that may be a possibility.
“But I definitely won’t be aiming for Japan in 2019 – maybe as a baggage master, but definitely not as a player.”
Habana’s last appearance in a Springboks jersey – a humiliating 20-18 defeat to Italy last November – is not one he will look back at fondly.
Habana said: “2016 was a disastrous year and I was part of it. Losing to Italy for the first time was not the way I wanted it to end, but hopefully my contribution to South Africa over 12 years will never be underestimated.
“(Fly-half) Elton Jantjes struggled in the green jumper last year but has now taken his Super Rugby form on to the international stage, while there’s good depth at wing with Courtnall Skosan and Raymond Rhule doing well.
“The combinations appear to be working and Allister’s (Coetzee) been able to do a lot more planning.
“While it’s too early to judge their chances for 2019 and there’s a bit of catching up to do with New Zealand and England, from my own experience in 2007 anything is possible.”
If this season is to be Habana’s swansong, he aims to bow out a winner with Toulon.
He added: “There’s not much you can say about last season after Toulon went through five coaches and three head coaches, but to then win six of our last seven matches and reach the Top 14 final was absolutely incredible.
“There’s a rebuilding job going on now under Fabien Galthie, but we can take a lot from what we did at the end of last season and it feels like a brand new era.
Nearing end: Habana