Overseas players key to South Africa resurgence, says Habana

By Tom Webber 31 July 2018 87
Overseas players key to South Africa resurgence, says Habana

Bryan Habana emphasized the importance overseas-based players can have as South Africa bid to restore themselves as one of the dominant forces in rugby union.

Allister Coetzee replaced Heyneke Meyer after the Springboks finished third at the 2015 Rugby World Cup but won just 11 of his 25 matches at the helm and was relieved of his duties in February.

Rassie Erasmus took over and was boosted ahead of the Tests against Wales and England by a loosening on the rules regarding the selection of players who ply their trade outside South Africa.

Faf de Klerk was the main beneficiary having been below the previous 30-Test ineligibility mark, while Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Steyn, Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux were also recalled.

Habana pointed to their efforts as one of the major highlights from the 2-1 series triumph over Eddie Jones' side that has helped change the outlook for the Springboks.

"The series against England in June for South Africa was a real positive after two rather disappointing years under Allister Coetzee," Habana told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Coco Fuzion 100.

"Being able to come up and get in a series win with an inspirational moment of Siya Kolisi becoming the first black captain of the Springboks was really a fantastic moment for South African rugby and for South Africa.

"The positive [change] out of the June series is the way the overseas-based players have stepped up to the plate, which hasn't quite been there in the previous two years.

"The way the players went about coming from behind in that series, especially in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein was really good to see.

"[There were] some positive finds. [Going] 24-3 down in that first Test match over in Johannesburg made things look pretty ominous, but to be brutally honest to see the way the boy's responded and to go on and get the series victory was really fantastic."

Habana hopes the team can continue to develop positively ahead of next year's World Cup in Japan.

"A year out from the World Cup there's a lot of planning being put into place by Rassie Erasmus and hopefully the players will be able to step up to the plate and make the difference over the next while," he said.

"So a lot to think about, but again some positive signs over the June period.

"There's a lot on the go and hopefully the team continues to develop as Rassie and Siya start heading towards Japan in 2019."

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Tom Webber