Habana is supporting pyrotechnics in the field to ignite the Lions tour of South Africa this summer
Habana, 38, played in the Springboks 2-1 win over the Lions in 2009
Springbok legend Bryan Habana believes fireworks in the square will keep the sparks of Lions alive after the soul of the tour is ripped out by the pandemic. writes Josh Graham.
Warren Gatland’s 37-person squad heads to South Africa next week without the traditional sea of traveling red fans and will only play in three cities, with all fans banned due to health and safety concerns.
Former winger Habana was part of the South African side that beat the Lions 2-1 in a brutal series in 2009 and he doesn’t mind if his team loses one of the first two Tests if that makes for a thrilling final.
“I hope the on-field performances make an incredible streak,” said Habana, who spoke at a pre-Lions tour event to highlight the HIV campaign and the power of exercise and physical activity Positive social change for individuals and communities.
“I know the Lions, like the team, are coming to South Africa in 1997 and want to do something amazing by beating the rugby world champion.
“I hope this will really make for an extra hot series.
“It will be massive for the 30 players who will play in these friendly matches.
“The experience will of course be very different, but I know that the South African players are so eager to return to the international stage that they haven’t played together since the 2019 World Cup final.
“The players will leave everything on the pitch. It won’t be a series like 2009 with the traveling fans, but it won’t take anything away from the monumental occasion of the Lions tour. “
“I would really love it if it was 1: 1 in the third test just to create the added hype.
“The reason I’m saying this is because we saw the Lions win the first two games in 1997, we won the first couple of games in 2009, and the last game is becoming almost less important.
“I really believe that based on experience, the Springbok team has what it takes to keep up with the Lions and come out victorious with a 2-1 straight win in their third.”
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Habana, who scored 67 tries in 124 caps, is relieved that the series hasn’t been canceled or played outside of South Africa as the country desperately tries to host the best rugby talent the UK and Ireland have to offer.
The 2007 World Champion added, “It is sad that Lions players do not experience going to parishes or traveling to different provinces in South Africa. It’s all in bubbles now.
“It’s sad that the players don’t have the experience of traveling fans and that we won’t have fans in the stadiums, but I’m grateful that the tour is taking place because I know that South Africa needs it.
“If not, it would have had to be postponed by four years because it just doesn’t fit anywhere on the current rugby calendar.
“So we really needed the Lions tour to move forward.”
Tackle HIV, a campaign led by Gareth Thomas in partnership with ViiV Healthcare and the Terrence Higgins Trust, aims to tackle the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding HIV. For more information, visit www.tacklehiv.org and follow @tacklehiv