Classy Habana completes his hat-trick

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Independent Newspapers

Bryan Habana scooped the South African Rugby Player of the Year award in Cape Town yesterday Picture. Adrian de Kock

‘Form is temporary, class is permanent” – the say ing is often used to describe sportsmen and women who’re going through a slump in form.

It was said of Bryan Habana in 2010 and 2011 when he battled for form and came very close to being dropped from the Springbok team.

A year on, he is again South Africa’s best player … a man of pure class in everything he does on the rugby field.

Habana was last night named South African Rugby Player of the Year for 2012, the third time he has been named South Africa’s best.

He beat off the challenges of Eben Etzebeth, JP Pietersen, Keegan Daniel and Pat Lambie for the award.

In a year in which the Stormers won the South African Super Rugby Conference and played in the semi- finals and Western Province played in the Currie Cup final, and won it, Habana stood out in both campaigns and was also the standout player for the Springboks in a mediocre season.

The Cape Town-based winger extended his Bok try-scoring record to 47 during the Test season and also became the most capped Bok under new coach Heyneke Meyer.

He scored seven tries in the nine Tests he played, including a hat-trick against Australia at Loftus Versfeld. The speed merchant’s third award comes after similar accolades in 2005 and 2007. He becomes only the second player to win the title more than two times, following in the footsteps of Naas Botha, who won it four times.

The 29-year-old, who picked up an injury in the Currie Cup final in Durban last weekend, will, sadly, not tour with the Boks to Europe from Saturday, leaving the national side short on much-needed experience, especially at the back.

Etzebeth, the 20-year-old Bok lock, didn’t go home empty-handed, scooping the Young Player of the Year award, ahead of Marcell Coetzee, Johan Goosen, Elton Jantjies and Raymond Rhule, while Sharks captain Daniel was named Super Rugby Player of the Year.

Currie Cup Player of the Year was Deon Fourie, who shifted from hooker to flank when injuries struck the Western Province team and he went on to lift the cup at the end of the season.

One of the favourites to win the main award last night, Sharks wing Pietersen, also went home with silverware, the Players Player of the Year award, chosen by his fellow professional players in the country.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Sharks’ Currie Cup team picked up the Team of the Year award – but it must be noted the voting concluded before last weekend’s competition final in which Western Province came out on top, winning the trophy for the first time in 11 years.

One’s got to feel for Dawie Theron and his SA U-20 charges, too. They won the world title in spectacular fashion earlier this season and while Theron and the team were nominated in their categories, neither picked up an award.

Centre Jan Serfontein, however, won the award as U-20 Player of the Year.

Bryan Habana fact file:

Age: 29

Bok debut: 2004

Test caps: 83

Test tries: 47

Honours won:

2012: SA Player of the Year; Currie Cup winner; Super Rugby Conference winner.

2011: Super Rugby Conference winner.

2010: Super Rugby finalist.

2009: Super 15 winner; Currie Cup winner (Blue Bulls); British and Irish Lions series winner; Tri-Nations win- ner.

2007: SA Player of the Year; Super Rugby winner; World Cup winner; IRB World Player of the Year.

2005: SA Player of the Year; IRB Player of the Year nominee; Currie Cup runner-up.


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