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JOHANNESBURG, June 28, 2012
South African rugby hero and Laureus Ambassador Bryan Habana says he has set himself new goals for his career which he hopes will bring him back to the peak of performance for the Springboks.
Speaking in an interview with Laureus.com in Johannesburg, Habana said: “I was pretty disappointed with 2010/11. I think I had a great season with the Stormers in my first year in 2010, but I didn’t do too well with the Springboks during 2010 and that affects a lot of things, because it doesn’t just affect you as a person, it affects the country and it affects everyone around you.
“After the 2011 World Cup, I actually had to sit down and set new goals for myself and set new standards for myself. You get caught up in all the criticism and in a way you start doubting yourself and I think I just had to go back and understand why I played this beautiful game. The new goals I’ve set for myself I haven’t really achieved yet. I’m enjoying my rugby again but I’m still not quite where I want to be and I am now looking forward to hopefully improving over the next couple of months and weeks.”
Habana, who has been playing in the current Springboks Test series against England, confirmed he received some ‘great’ offers to leave South Africa last year. He said: “I really thought hard about the decision about whether to stay or not. I think at the end of the day I am a proud South African and this country and its people have been able to give me so much.
“I sat down with my wife and we needed to decide where I wanted to be. There were certain things that I felt I had not achieved yet in South Africa, one of them being to be a part of the success story down in Cape Town with the Stormers. I think it was a good decision to stay and continue fighting. It’s been a good year and hopefully I’ll continue improving.”
Talking about his career, in which he has scored 41 Test tries, Habana highlighted his debut for the Springboks in 2004, not the 2007 Rugby World Cup as his greatest moment. He said: “Being able to don that green and gold jersey for the first time back in 2004 was probably the most special. I think you had worked hard enough to realise a dream, but to actually go out there and live that dream for the first time is an unbelievable feeling and a feeling you can never describe, a feeling you can never actually relay to the rest of the world.
“The proudest moment of your life, the proudest moment of your parents’, your family’s life. It was something really special. I think for me to do it against England, the then World Champions, in 2004, at Twickenham, which was the home of rugby, and score a try with my first touch of the ball in my international career was a moment that I’ll never forget.”
Of the 2007 Rugby World Cup win, he says: “Winning it was special and being able to contribute to the success of the team, not only by scoring eight tries, but being a part in every moment of every match was really special.
“I think for me the highlight of 2007 was when we got back to South Africa and saw what a difference it made to those people, when we drove through the townships and you see the little kids, three, four, five, six, seven years old, running behind the bus just to continue getting a glimpse of their heroes, of a team that united a country. So it was fantastic winning, of course, but being able to see the difference it made to our country was a feeling you will never be able to describe.”
Of his role as a Laureus Ambassador, Habana said: “When I was asked by Morné du Plessis if I would be a Laureus Ambassador, I didn’t see it as a privilege, I saw it as something much more than that. I think the various ways that Laureus gives back around the world, involving sporting heroes is really fantastic. I want to get involved in community upliftment.
“There is no greater feeling than being able to see a kid’s life being lifted up because of you being involved, by just seeing you and by you giving him hope where he didn’t have hope previously.
Hopefully when rugby is done and dusted, I’ll be able to be more involved, but you know, if Laureus want to use me, I’m definitely going to be able to put my hand up and say I’m available.”