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It’s been a privilege

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SARU President hails contribution made by 'one of the best'

President of SARU, Mark Alexander has heaped praise on one of the greatest servants of South African rugby - Bryan Habana.

Saru president hails contribution made by ‘one of the best’

“We have been privileged to have witnessed the career of Bryan Habana,” said Alexander (pictured), echoing the sentiments of many a Bok fan.

The 34-year-old, who turned out for the Lions, Bulls, Stormers and most recently Toulon in France, hinted at retirement some months ago, but confirmed the news yesterday.

“The inevitable moment has come knocking at my door and I’ve welcomed it in for a drink,” started the statement issued by the 124-Test Bok veteran. “It’s been more than a year of hoping, trying, pushing and willing to get back on the field for one last time, to taste the sweet victory or encounter that gut-wrenching despair, to hear the roar of the crowd or grab the pill out of the air, to make that last bone crunching tackle or score that last game-winning try, but it’s unfortunately just not to be.

“I , like most, would have liked my career to have ended differently, but sometimes things don’t turn out quite the way we hope for. So, at the end of this season, it’s time to say goodbye and thank you to the game I so dearly love.”

Alexander called the 2007 World Cup winner ‘one of the greatest South African sportsmen of all time.’

“During a career that spanned more than a decade and a half, he stood out as one of the most professional players ever to don the Springbok jersey, and over the years Bryan has been central to many of the most memorable occasions in the era of professional rugby,” said Alexander.

“We will never forget every time he delighted us by crossing the try-line or putting in yet another bone-crunching tackle, but those close to him will also remember the Bryan that was a true professional, always going about his task giving 100 percent.

“He was also a leader in all the teams he played for and set an example to younger players of what is needed to succeed at the top. But most of all, he was a proud South African who was a wonderful ambassador to our country wherever he went.

“When it came to using rugby as a tool for nation-building, Bryan was always in the front of the queue. Bryan has left behind a legacy of discipline, leadership and professionalism.”

Having achieved so much in the 16 years he played professional rugby, Habana said it was “impossible” to sum it up properly or describe the journey accurately, but he ended his statement by saying, “ most of all to rugby, because for me it truly is a game made in heaven.”

He added: “As a close friend once said, ‘memories are all we have,’ and I’m immensely grateful for the memories I take with me into the next chapter.”

Among the many accolades Habana has won, he is the only player since unity in 1992 to have won the SA Rugby Player of the Year title three times – in 2005, 2007 and 2012 – and was also named World Player of the Year in 2007.