A scary and daunting time for Habana
Stormers and Springbok wing Bryan Habana is getting ready for another challenge.
CAPE TOWN - The Stormers and Springbok wing Bryan Habana on Monday told Eyewitness News Sport he is looking forward to the next "scary and daunting" chapter in his life after announcing his decision to leave South Africa to ply his trade in France.
Habana earlier in January announced he had signed a pre-contract agreement to play for Toulon in the French Top 14 at the conclusion of the Stormers 2013 Super rugby campaign.
This will not herald the end of his international career though as he remains available for selection should national coach Heyneke Meyer select him.
“It was imperative that I let Heyneke [Meyer] know what my decision was. For me, if my play warrants and merits me being selected for the Springboks then that's all I really worry about,” he said.
The 83-times capped Springbok said that he knows he will have to perform outstandingly in France to be part of Meyer’s plans.
“I really believe there's an unbelievable amount of talent coming through in South African rugby at the moment. I said to the coach: “I only want him to select me if I'm the best one to be selected.”
“I think it wasn't about asking him what his thoughts are, but letting him know about my decision and if he sees fit that I'm playing good enough rugby to be selected in the Springbok side, that he can select me.
“I haven't closed the door on playing for the Springboks quite yet, there's one or two things I'd still like to achieve and hopefully throughout the Super Rugby competition, my level of play will warrant exactly that.”
He said if selected, he still has major ambitions to fulfil on the international stage. The Springboks play France in the final Test of the year in November, a fixture in particular he is looking forward to.
"It's definitely something that I've put into my contract [being available for international selection]. I know there's a test in France at the end of the year and hopefully I would have learnt the basics [of French rugby] and I'll be able to help out the coach and some of the other players, if selected.”
Habana said the move came swiftly.
"It sort of came about very quickly. It wasn't something that was in the back of my mind until the end of last year. I got one or two calls, met one or two people and all of a sudden it became an option. "
Habana said he thought very hard about his future and the possibility of playing abroad.
"I had a month and a half to decide. I think at this moment it's a new challenge, something different. Something that's very exciting is being able to play with the calibre of players that are at Rugby Club Toulonnais. That said, it is daunting to learn French and going into the unknown after really settling and calling Cape Town home after three years.
“I’m looking forward to one last hurrah in Cape Town and hopefully I can play my part and contribute to the success of the Stormers over the next while.”
The 2012 Springbok Player of the Year said he had always admired Toulon and always wanted to play there. The club have been chasing after the winger's services for an extended period.
The 29-year-old said he could no longer refuse the advances of club owner Mourad Boudjellal.
"I have been chatting to Toulon for a number of years and it's always been a club that's excited me. They've laid a foundation and I think they're at a point now where I really want to gain success for them. I think they're really close on getting some major trophies in the European leagues at the moment. And hopefully once I'm done with my Stormers career, I can go there and make a difference.'
The former Bulls player will link up with several ex-Bok team mates, who won the 2007 World Cup in France, who are also playing for Toulon.
The 2007 World Cup-winning captain John Smit, loose forward Danie Rossouw and lock Bakkies Botha will all be wearing the famous Rouge Et Noir next season.
Habana said it is an exciting thought to play with them again.
“Bakkies (Botha) has become quite a popular figure in the south of France. Guys like John (Smit) and myself get along quite well and we've got a great friendship. It's going be nice to see Danie Rossouw again who I've played quite a bit with at the Bulls and at the Springboks.
“So it really is great, I think it's always nice to speak Afrikaans at home but also on the training field and on the rugby field so that's going to be pretty exciting, because Bakkies' (Botha) French is pretty good so I might have to get a few tips from him."
Habana however said his goal at the moment is to help the Stormers claim glory in Super rugby.
"At the current moment in time, all my focus, all my energy is on a Stormers Super Rugby campaign and making sure I'm fit and ready to go.”