Habana plays down altitude factor

Bryan Habana has warned South Africa should not pitch up at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday thinking the high altitude alone will help them overcome the British and Irish Lions in the second Test.

Much has been made about the 1,214-metre distance above sea level of the Pretoria stadium, with some former players even warning that if the tourists failed to win the series-opener in Durban, they would fail to come away with anything.

As it turned out, Ian McGeechan's men lost the first Test 26-21 against the world champions, despite a late rally at the Absa Stadium, but they must now win the remaining two games on the Highveld, the second of which takes place at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, 1,753 metres above sea level.

Habana, who has played provincial rugby at the two Gauteng grounds for his entire career, believes nothing should be taken for granted.

"The altitude and everything that comes with it is all circumstantial to the game," said Habana, who will win his 48th Test cap on Saturday. "If we just arrive there and think that altitude's going to win it for us, we're definitely going to be in the wrong space.

"That just doesn't win you a game. I've been very lucky to be part of a very successful Bulls side over the past five years. We've sort of made Loftus a very tough place to come and play at and with the Springboks it's been similar over the last couple of years.

"So with that altitude and everything, it's still totally up to the players on the day. You've got to still arrive and play a Test match.

"You're playing against the best players in the northern hemisphere and if you think altitude is going to help you on the day, then you're going to be negatively affected."

By his own high standards Habana had a quiet game going forward on the coast, and has even come in for criticism from some quarters about the way he played.

But the 26-year-old maintained he was happy with his contribution, saying: "I think defensively I was really happy with where I was on Saturday. Whether I'm scoring tries or making turnover tackles, that's quite important.

"It's always nice to score tries, but I think when you have a series as massively important as this one, then just winning is probably the most important thing.

"It wasn't very nice not getting on the scoreboard, but the contribution each and every player made for that 80 minutes was vitally important, whether it was on attack or defence.

"Hopefully I'll be able to do something in the next couple of weeks and go enjoy a possible whitewash, but until that happens, my contribution to the team will be a lot different and we'll see where it goes from there."


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)