Rugby Union

Bryan Habana doubtful for Commonwealth Games

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Bryan Habana has won 97 caps and scored 55 tries for South Africa XVs (©GettyImages)
Bryan Habana has won 97 caps and scored 55 tries for South Africa XVs (©GettyImages).

South African rugby star Bryan Habana is unlikely to play for his country at the Commonwealth Games.

The winger was released late by his club, Toulon, missing the deadline for squad submissions, according to Sky Sports.

He will only come into the side if there is an injury, as the Blitzbokke go into the tournament as one of the favourites.

Habana was called up to the Sevens squad in June, last playing the shorter format of the game ten years ago in the World Series.

He was expected to play at the Commonwealth Games, before joining up with the senior side for the Rugby Championship, which begins in mid-August.

Denied return

The World Cup winner could be waiting a while longer to make his Sevens return, after French club Toulon blocked him from competing in Scotland.

They changed their minds, but the deadline for squad submission had already passed.
Habana will now be used as a nominated reserve, meaning only an injury to someone in the side will allow him to participate.

The 31-year-old, who has close to 100 caps for South Africa XV, was just one of a number of top stars to be selected for the Games in Glasgow.

Saracens hooker and senior international Schalk Brits joined Habana in the squad, along with Sevens veteran Cornal Hendricks.

The former was another who has struggled to get clearance from his club, but unlike his flying countryman, Brits will not take any part in the tournament for definite, after his Aviva Premiership side denied him the opportunity.

See Also: New Zealand among the favourites for gold

Potential winners

South Africa are heading into the Games as one of the favourites to claim the top prize.

They finished fourth in the annual IRB Sevens World Series, behind England, Fiji and champions New Zealand.

The Blitzbokke mainly contained young and future stars, with players including 21-year-old Seabelo Senatla and Justin Geduld, 20, impressing.

In the series, where nations travel for mini tournaments in various places across the globe, South Africa won twice, including in Port Elizabeth in their home country.

Talent and experience

Following the announcement that Habana and Brits would be in Glasgow, their chances were significantly increased, bringing in experience to a talented side.

With the pair now virtually out of contention to play a single minute at the Ibrox Stadium, their hopes of claiming gold have depleted.

New Zealand will be the ones to beat, having won every Commonwealth Games gold medal since the first in 1998 in Malaysia.

South Africa will now need to pray that the All Blacks have a poor tournament, with the two days of competition kicking off this Saturday.

The Blitzbokke will take on Kenya, Cook Islands and Trinidad and Tobago in their Pool B, as they look to challenge for top honours.

Topics:
Commonwealth Games
South Africa Rugby
Rugby Union
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