Habana joins Jonny and Co at Toulon as South Africa star pens three-year deal with French side
13:54 GMT, 11 January 2013
14:01 GMT, 11 January 2013
Bryan Habana's move to Toulon has been confirmed with the World Cup-winning Springbok wing joining a host of other Galacticos on the Cote d'Azur, on a three-year deal.
The 29-year-old, who has amassed 83 caps, has scored 47 Test tries along the way in establishing himself as one of the most prolific finishers in the world game.
He was named the IRB Player of the Year in 2007, after being at the forefront of the Boks' successful World Cup campaign in France.
Catch me if you can: The South Africa star has joined Toulon on a three-year deal
His career has taken him from the Pretoria-based Blue Bulls to Cape Town, where he has played for Western Province and the Stormers in Super Rugby.
Now, after years of being linked with a lucrative move to Europe, he has agreed to add his name to the stellar cast list at Toulon, alongside the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau, Carl Hayman and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.
Here's Jonny: Wilkinson will be joined by Habana at Toulon
'I would like to thank everyone at Western Province for their support throughout my stay in Cape Town,' Habana said.
'I've had three great seasons in the Cape thus far, and I am looking forward to finishing off on a high before taking on a new challenge overseas.'
In the past, such a move would have removed a player from contention to be picked for South Africa, but that restrictive practice has been relaxed, which leaves the path clear for Habana to aim for a century of international appearances.
'Playing for the Boks is a huge part of my life and I would never turn
my back on my country,' he added.
'I will never stop giving 100 per cent on the field for any team I play for, and
if the Springbok coach picks me, I will be there. It's a wrench to
leave my home, even if only for a short while, but the chance to test
myself against different opposition in a new environment was difficult
to turn down.'
What Toulon will have at their disposal is a player renowned for his blistering pace, having reportedly clocked a time of 10.2 seconds for the 100metres. Such was the fixation with his raw speed that Habana was once pitted against a cheetah in a race.
Having made his Test debut against England at Twickenham in 2004, he soon established himself as a lethal try-scorer and equalled Jonah Lomu's World Cup record tally of eight at the 2007 tournament.
Four years later, he broke the South African record for international tries when he struck against Namibia in a pool match.
Toulon coach Bernard Laporte was in charge of France during the 2007 World Cup and he has made a strong push to recruit the Springboks who evidently caught his attention during that event across the Channel.
In addition to the previous signing of Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw is due to arrive at the club shortly, when he has finished his final season in Japan, while ex-Bok skipper John Smit has agreed to join Toulon from Saracens at the end of this season.