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Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 18:40 UK

Habana delivers warning to Lions

First Test: SOUTH AFRICA v LIONS
Venue: King's Park, Durban
Date: 20 June Kick-off: 1400 BST (1500 local time)
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and online Rugby Union on the BBC

Bismarck du Plessis and Bryan Habana
Habana (right) chats to Bismarck du Plessis during a Springboks training session

By Simon Austin
BBC Sport in Durban

Bryan Habana has warned the Lions that the South Africa side they are about to face is even better than the one that lifted the World Cup two years ago.

Winger Habana, who was the star of the Boks' Paris triumph, will line up against the Lions in the first Test at King's Park in Durban on Saturday.

"From one to 15, this is probably a more rounded side than we could pick in 2007," the 26-year-old told BBC Sport.

"We've more experience and more leaders - we must use that to our advantage."

Habana, who will win his 47th cap on Saturday, said there was an "unbelievable togetherness" in the Springboks camp.

The pressure I put on myself is the biggest I feel, I'm not too worried about what the media and everyone else says

Bryan Habana

"We are lucky and privileged to have someone as special as John Smit leading the side," added Habana, referring to the South African captain.

"His ability to create an energy in this team is something truly special and unique.

"Each and every individual just wants the best for the player next to him.

"It's where you want to be when you're encountering one of the biggest tasks of your international career - to know that each player you're going to war with will die for you."

Habana was troubled by injury and loss of form earlier in the season, but the 2007 world player of the year looked back to his best in helping the Blue Bulls win the Super 14 title and is now confident of putting on a performance on Saturday.

Bryan Habana
Habana bears down on Leigh Halfpenny at the Millennium Stadium

"I've got 46 Tests under my belt now and I want to do all I can to help show we really are an unbelievable Springbok side," he said.

"I've been working very hard to make sure I'm successful and the Boks are successful.

"The pressure I put on myself is the biggest I feel, I'm not too worried about what the media and everyone else says."

Despite the confidence he has in both himself and his team-mates, Habana admits he has been impressed with Ian McGeechan's Lions since their arrival in South Africa.

The tourists go into Saturday's game boasting a 100% record in their warm-up games - a feat they had not achieved for 20 years - but it is their style of play which has really impressed Habana.

"They are a lot more rounded than we thought they'd be," said Habana. "They've gelled unbelievably well as a team and their skill levels are very high.

RUGBY UNION BLOG
BBC Sport's Simon Austin

"They've got some of the best players in world rugby in their back line, like Brian O'Driscoll, Lee Byrne, Mike Phillips and Stephen Jones, who are probably up there with the best players in world rugby at the moment.

"Jamie Roberts, as young as he is, is playing exceptional rugby. We are expecting a lot from this Lions side and from ourselves as well.

"Hopefully it will live up to expectations and be one of the most special Lions series the world has seen."



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see also
Wing Williams eager for Test call
15 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Brussow handed Springboks start
16 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Springboks fail to impress in win
27 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions squad selector
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
In-depth interview - Bryan Habana
28 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
England 6-15 South Africa
20 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Springboks call up Habana
05 Aug 04 |  Internationals


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