Veteran Springbok wing Bryan Habana has thrown his support behind South Africa's bid to host the 2023 World Cup.
South Africa is competing with Ireland and France for hosting rights, but the two European countries have already submitted their proposals to World Rugby. SA Rugby will only be able to submit an official proposal now, after new minister of sport Thulas Nxesi has reinstated the governing body's right to host international events.
Speaking to ESPN's Tom Hamilton, Habana says there is still enough time to make up ground on France and Ireland's bidding campaigns.
'Ireland and France are the other contenders and they didn't have a political imposition put on them halfway through their campaign,' said Habana. 'No other country deals with that. Ireland and France are maybe a horse and hare in front of us at the moment in terms of their campaigns, but it's something that I as an individual and the country can play a part in giving something back where it's needed at the moment.'
The 33-year-old spoke enthusiastically about the how the event would help to bring about change in South African rugby but also in unifying the South Africans in general.
'As players we just want the best for South African rugby and we want to be playing a level of rugby that sees us play our part in inspiring and giving hope and making South Africa a better place.
'I was involved in 1995 as a youngster and I saw Nelson Mandela walk out in that Springbok jersey which could never have happened in apartheid time. But there I sat as a 13-year-old youngster who had never picked up a rugby ball in terms of a team context, but it inspired me to hopefully one day inspire that next generation and to bring a nation together which so badly needs it because of the disunifying factors in our country at the moment.
'Rugby and sport has a huge role to play in unifying the country and bringing hope and installing inspiration where there once was none. The hosting 2023 World Cup would be great.'
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