South African Rugby
De Villiers welcomes Habana switch
August 25, 2009
Habana in action during a Springboks training session ahead of their departure to Australia © Getty Images
Springboks coach Peter de Villiers has welcomed reports that winger Bryan Habana will commit his playing future to South Africa later this week.
The 26-year-old Blue Bulls speedster is set to shun a move overseas in favour of a switch to domestic rivals Western Province in a lucrative two-year deal. Habana's father confirmed last weekend that the player had decided to accept an offer from the Cape Town-based franchise in a move that will disappoint a host of European clubs who were also reportedly interested in his signature.
A formal agreement is expected before Habana heads to Australia with the rest of the Springboks squad later this week for the final leg of their Tri-Nations campaign. The Blue Bulls have first refusal on the player's services should they wish to match the existing offer from Western Province but they have already expressed a reluctance to break the bank to hold onto the Rugby World Cup winner who has already turned down an earlier offer from his current employers.
"I'm so happy," De Villiers told the Cape Argus. "They [South Africa's players] can play anywhere they like as long as it's in the country."
South Africa, who claimed a series victory over the British & Irish Lions earlier this year, are unbeaten in this year's Tri-Nations following three successive victories that have als seen them usurp New Zealand at the top of the IRB World Rankings. And De Villiers is delighted that only two members of his current squad have chosen to pursue careers overseas with centre Jean de Villiers heading to Irish province Munster and utility back Frans Steyn set to join French club Racing Metro 92 later this year.
"We're so blessed that only two players will be leaving us when everybody thought there would be an exodus after the [British and Irish] Lions tour," added De Villiers. "We need to look ahead at the things we want to achieve after the Tri-Nations."