Bryan Habana believes the Springboks’ playing experience in Japan will benefit South Africa at the World Cup later this year.
In recent years, several key Springboks have opted out of a proper off-season to play club rugby in Japan, with Warren Whiteley, Franco Mostert, Duane Vermeulen, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Eben Etzebeth, Handré Pollard, Curwin Bosch, Elton Jantjies, Kwagga Smith, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Combrinck, Lwazi Mvovo, André Esterhuizen, Willie le Roux and Jason Jenkins all enjoying spells in the Top League.
Speaking at the 2019 Laureus Sports Awards ceremony, Habana explained he believes that those players’ intel on the conditions and logistics could boost the Springboks’ bid for a third World Cup title.
‘What could potentially count in our favour is the number of players going to the World Cup who ply their trade in Japan,’ Habana said.
‘You have guys like Duane, Jesse, Damian and Eben who know those conditions. They know what it is like from a logistical point of view, from a mindset point of view, and not only playing in Japan, but also being successful.’
Habana added that coach Rassie Erasmus’ squad has the necessary quality and depth to go all the way.
‘To win World Cups, you need about five to six players with 50 Test caps, and you need about the same players that can lead that side, which we have,’ he said.
‘You have Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux, who everyone 18 months ago said were done and dusted for the Springbok set-up, playing crucial roles in how the team showed more promise in 2018.
‘Guys that may not necessarily have been well-known on the international scene, such as Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sbu Nkosi, who to me were some of the shining lights.’
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