Top 14
Toulon expecting eye-catching Habana debut
ESPN Staff
August 30, 2013
Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal welcomes Bryan Habana to the French club earlier this month © Getty Images

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal is expecting big things from high-profile signing Bryan Habana when he makes his eagerly-awaited Top 14 debut on Saturday.

The South African winger made the switch to the star-studded French giants this summer and is set for his league bow having been released from the Springboks' squad following their opening games in this year's Rugby Championship.

Toulon head the Top 14 table after the first two games of the season thanks to a draw against Montpellier and a victory over Racing Metro and Boudjellal is confident that Habana can inspire more success at Grenoble tomorrow.

"Each time I managed to sign a big-name player, be that [Tana] Umaga or [Jonny] Wilkinson, he has succeeded in doing something decisive in his first match," Boudjellal told AFP. "I hope this magic will continue in Grenoble, but the magic, it's something quite tricky to manage, it's not an exact science. It works or it doesn't work."

Habana, who is likely to feature off the bench having featured in two pre-season clashes, has also been praised for his efforts to blend in with the rest of the Toulon squad. "When he arrived in July, I thought that he'd already been there last season," said scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde. "He's adapted very quickly. He makes the effort to speak French and he's very smiley, it's important for the squad."

Another Springboks star poised for his Top 14 debut is fly-half Morne Steyn who has been named on the bench for Stade Francais' clash with Biarritz. The game will be the Paris-based club's first in their re-vamped Stade Jean Bouin home having played at the Stade Charlety across the city during the re-construction of their traditional ground.

Stade president Thomas Savare called the home stadium in western Paris a "fundamental element" for the club, who have been playing across the city at the Charlety stadium during the reconstruction.

The re-jigged stadium will be able to seat 20,000, with president Thomas Savare aiming for an average gate of 13,500. "Without Jean Bouin, I would absolutely not have taken over Stade Francais," said Savare. "It's impossible to envisage having a club in the Top 14 without a modern working arena, especially in Paris."

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