The Springboks’ Bryan Habana scythed through the US defence on Wednesday for a hat-trick of tries that took him level with a player he feels is beyond comparison at the top of the Rugby World Cup try-scoring list.
Habana’s treble in South Africa’s 64-0 victory lifted him to 15 tries in his third World Cup, the same number former New Zealand giant Jonah Lomu managed in two tournaments.
The 32-year-old Springbok described Lomu as the greatest finisher the game has ever seen.
”I said in 2007 that I don’t think I can ever be compared to Jonah, the way he changed the game, he was a class act. He did it in two tournaments, it’s taken me three,” Habana said Wednesday.
”He became the first global superstar the game produced and I’ve got an unbelievable amount of respect for him.
”For me records are nice to achieve and personal milestones are fantastic, but the most important thing is making contributions to my side.
”I have been very fortunate to have worn that Springbok jersey 114 times and to have been able to make a contribution for the team has been a lot more worthwhile to me than the tries I have scored.”
Habana also chose to focus on his side’s defence against the US, rather than the attacking brio which created 10 tries at the Olympic Stadium.
”That second-half performance has been as polished as I have been involved in with a Bok team,” he said.
”As nice as it is to be scoring tries, I think where we can really be proud of ourselves in our defensive effort over the last two weeks.
”To only allow one try in three World Cup games is pretty special, the scrambled defence and the way the boys put their bodies on the line from minute one to 80 was exceptional.”
Another World Cup may be unrealistic, but Habana said this week that he does not see the tournament as his swansong.
”A lot of people say you know when the end is near, to be honest I don’t think it’s quite there yet for me,” he said.
”It will always be a massive honour and privilege to wear that green and gold jersey and run out with a band of 22 brothers.
”I’ll never ever take that for granted and, hopefully, I can continue doing it for a little while longer.” â€“ AFP