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Habana: What Boks beating All Blacks means for Autumn Nations Series

By PA

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Bryan Habana believes that the thrilling Rugby Championship victory by the Springboks over the All Blacks earlier this month has provided a perfect springboard for the Autumn Nations Series. South Africa open up against Wales on November 6, then tackle Scotland before facing England for the first time since brushing aside Eddie Jones’ team in the 2019 World Cup final.

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Although the Springboks finished third in the Rugby Championship, losing three games out of six, a 31-29 win against New Zealand underlined their quality. After resuming international action this summer with a 2-1 Test series victory over the British and Irish Lions, South Africa will now look to leave another pre-2023 World Cup calling card.

There were a lot of questions asked during that Lions series, but the way the Springboks came out of the rugby wilderness, the mental resilience that team showed was paramount,” Habana said at the Autumn Nations Series media launch.

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An All Black, a France squad and a disappearing act
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An All Black, a France squad and a disappearing act

“They got found wanting against Australia in the countries’ second Test of the Rugby Championship, but they proved in the last game against the All Blacks that they are worthy world champions. We saw the Test quality of the Springboks team in that last game.

“As world champions, the expectations and standards they set are really high. They will be looking to continue the form they showed in the last game against New Zealand. There will definitely be a three (wins) from three goal in place next month and they will be focusing on the first game against Wales, where they haven’t had much success over the last half a decade.”

Wales have won four games on the bounce against South Africa in Cardiff, and Habana added: “Go back over the last four or five years and the titanic battles against Wales, it has been physically won up-front and I can’t see this game being much different. It is always a nail-biter. Wales definitely have had the upper hand in Cardiff over the last six or seven years – but the Springboks will be raring to go.”

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Habana, who scored 67 tries in 124 Tests for the Springboks, also believes England boss Jones has got it spot on in calling up exciting prospects like Harlequins pair Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt to his autumn squad. “In the mid-World Cup cycle, Eddie knows he potentially needs an opportunity to blood young new talent within the set-up,” Habana said.

“Marcus Smith has had a dream twelve months, to be honest, and is justly rewarded, and then you look at players like Alex Dombrandt, who was also instrumental in Quins winning the Premiership last season. It has been a bit of a master-stroke by Eddie.

“It is a series when you can potentially give opportunities – mix that experience with youth – and hopefully get a better insight to what he needs to really look forward to in terms of the next World Cup in 2023.”

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Habana: What Boks beating All Blacks means for Autumn Nations Series

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