[EXCLUSIVE] Habana accepts that Springbok career likely over

Bryan Habana’s last Test was on the ill-fated tour of Europe in late 2016, where he scored in their historic 20-18 loss to Italy.

Springbok wing Bryan Habana. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - Springbok wing and Test rugby’s second-highest try-scorer of all time, Bryan Habana, has exclusively told EWN Sport that barring exceptional circumstances, he’s unlikely to play for South Africa again.

Capped 124 times, scoring 67 tries, the Toulon wing is in Cape Town following the conclusion of the French Top 14 competition where his club lost to Clermont Auvergne in the final.

Habana’s been on the sidelines due to a knee injury that will likely require surgery but says that he’s been in touch with Springbok coach Allister Coetzee about his future international prospects.

"I’ve also had an open and honest chat to Allister (Coetzee) about where I stand and I really appreciate the fact that he picked up the phone and gave me a call. Obviously, last year I thought that I’d probably have made a much bigger impact in terms of my leadership etc, but as disappointing as it was, Allister has been open and honest about where he wants to take this team and I’m not too sure that I’m going to be around in 2019."

Habana’s last Test was on the ill-fated tour of Europe in late 2016, where he scored in their historic 20-18 loss to Italy. He says that for now, he’s just focused on getting back to full fitness and is willing to help out if required.

"I think at the moment I’m not closing the door just yet, Allister has told me where I stand and where he sees me; and for that I’m very appreciative. I’ve got to sort myself out from a health and physical point of view in terms of getting back onto the park and being at 100%.

"Do I believe I can still make an impact? Probably do… but given how the likes of a Courtnall Skosan, Raymond Rhule and Dillyn Leyds have been playing at the moment, I think South African rugby is in really good hands. So, taking it week by week, (I'm) going to get back to Toulon, sort myself out and make sure that I’m 100% fully fit."

While in Cape Town, the veteran will launch the South African arm of his global foundation, Team Habana, a programme designed to develop young leaders through experiential learning. But, he says, despite missing out on pulling on the Springbok jersey, he’s happy to simply be a fan along with the rest of the country.

"If there’s maybe an opportunity later on through injuries that I’m involved, then I’d definitely grab that with both hands but at the moment, like everyone else, I’m going to be one unbelievably proud Springbok supporter."