‘SA player drain not just down to money’

Bryan Habana says it's not just the favourable exchange rate that is making local players decide to further their careers abroad.

Speaking to The Times in London, the Springbok veteran pointed out that the high crime rate and political issues are two of the chief reasons why players are leaving South Africa.

'People outside South Africa don't understand that there are a number of unique things happening in the country at the moment,' said Habana. 'Not only from a rugby point of view, but from a political, economical and safety point of view.'

The 33-year-old also suggested that World's Rugby's new five-year residency qualification period for foreigners to represent an adopted country wouldn't stem South Africa's player drain.

'A lot of people think rugby players go overseas to gain money, to gain residency in another country, but there are so many different factors which players take into consideration. Youngsters might move given the transformation charter which has been put down from a political point of view,' he added. 'When these youngsters move, it's not just about leaving South African shores – it's about taking your future into consideration.

'There are so many factors that no other rugby-playing nation has to deal with. No other nation has a history of apartheid and no other rugby-playing nation has an understanding of 70% of the population needing an opportunity that they didn't have 20 or 25 years prior.

'It's such an intricate thing that if you don't come from South Africa, then you'll never understand it,' Habana added. 

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Mariette Adams