High praise for Habana after another match-winning performance

Bryan Habana dives over the line in Durban on Saturday. (Steve Haag, Gallo)

Bryan Habana dives over the line in Durban on Saturday. (Steve Haag, Gallo)

Habana underlined his world class qualities with two game-winning moves as South Africa beat Italy 44-10 in their Test in Durban on Saturday.

Habana, who turns 30 on Wednesday, won the man-of-the-match award after setting up an early try for centre JJ Engelbrecht and scoring a breathtaking effort of his own at a crucial juncture of the match in the second half.

It extended to 48 his record as South Africa's top Test try scorer and reinforced his image as a match-winner for his country at a time when younger players have threatened to capture the public's imagination.

"In Super Rugby he has looked rather ordinary this season but there is something about Bryan that when you put him in a Bok jersey he's extraordinary," said Meyer, as his side now looks to a Test against Scotland in Nelspruit this Saturday.

"If Bryan plays well, the team plays well. He's still very excited to play for the Boks. I spoke to him in the tunnel just before the team ran out and asked if he was still as excited about playing after all his caps. He said he couldn't wait to get out there."

Habana, in his 84th Test appearance, made the try for Engelbrecht after fielding an Italian kick and then darting off with a jinx or two and at incredible pace before passing for the centre to easily score.

In the second half, as South Africa lost a grip on the game and were struggling, Habana put them back on a winning track with another magical move.

Again fielding a high ball almost on the halfway line, he cut inside from the right wing before suddenly accelerating and cutting straight through the middle of the Italians to dot down between the poles, all in the blink of an eye.

"Our game-plan suits him and it's a reason he scores a lot of tries," added Meyer.

Habana was named after former England football captain Bryan Robson by his Manchester United-supporting father. He made his mark in rugby as a World Cup winner, a three time South African player of the year and was voted the world's best in 2007.

Habana is set to leave for Toulon in France at the end of the Super Rugby season and is likely to remain a steady fixture for the Springboks for some time to come despite Meyer's preference for home-based players. - Reuters



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