SOUTH Africa star Bryan Habana left the World Cup without breaking Jonah Lomu’s try record, but he has no regrets as he ponders his own international future.
Habana, a World Cup-winner in 2007, won a bronze medal after the Springboks beat Argentina 24-13 at London’s Olympic Stadium on Friday.
Despite carving out several chances, the South Africa wing could not score the try he needed to surpass the record 15 World Cup tries he still shares with retired New Zealand ace Lomu.
“I’ve probably experienced a lot worse in my career,” Habana said.
“Unfortunately it didn’t happen. And I think sometimes things happen for a reason and maybe Jonah’s name sticking around for another four years isn’t the worst thing in the world.
“I’m incredibly humbled to have equalled his record. He only did it in two tournaments. It took me three,” he said.
The South African hero’s 64 tries in 117 tests leave him one shy of Australia great David Campese’s tally and third on an all-time list topped by Japan’s Daisuke Ohata with 69.
Habana has also enjoyed plenty of club success, helping French giants Toulon win the last two European Cups.
He is still with Toulon but when Habana went off 13 minutes from time on Friday — a decision coach Heyneke Meyer said was down to cramp -there was speculation he had played his last World Cup match and possibly his final international as well.
Springbok great Victor Matfield, who is retiring from test rugby, said that if he could play at a World Cup aged 38 there was no reason why Habana, who will be 36 in four years, could not feature at Japan 2019.
Habana, however, said he was considering his options.
“I haven’t really made my decision about where my future lies internationally,” he said.
“But obviously it has been a massive privilege to represent my country at the highest level, to have gone through ups and downs and experience some amazing memories.
“I will reflect on where I am, both physically and mentally, and how I feel.”
South Africa’s shock loss to Japan in their Pool opener – the biggest upset in World Cup history – put the whole squad, and Meyer especially, under enormous pressure.
For all that the two-time champions recovered to finish third, Meyer’s future as South Africa coach remains uncertain.
Habana said whether he carried on at test level would, in part, depend upon the identity of the Springbok coach.
“I guess there are a lot of unknowns that first have to become knowns. Who is the next coach? Will Heyneke stay on?
“Well obviously the best players are going to have an opportunity to be selected so . . . I think it might or might not be my call but like I’ve said, I had a great half a season and if it was my last, I was definitely very grateful for what it was.”
Habana’s fellow 2007 World Cup-winner Schalk Burger said he was contemplating an extension to his 86-cap career.
“I feel I’ve got enough energy and enough passion . . .” the 32-year-old flanker said.