Habana breaks 'Boks try-scoring record

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Bryan Habana hopes his record-setting try for South Africa on Thursday perks up the man he eclipsed, Joost van der Westhuizen, who is fighting a fatal motor neurone disease.

Habana finally left behind Van der Westhuizen after sharing the record for 15 months, when he scored his 39th Test try in the 22nd minute of the Springboks' 87-0 romp over Namibia in the Rugby World Cup.

Van der Westhuizen, a World Cup winner in 1995, retired as one of the greatest Springboks after the 2003 Cup with a record 38 tries.

In July, the 40-year-old Van der Westhuizen confirmed he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and was given less than five years to live.

"It's a great privilege and honour to go past such a great player, and I hope this gives him a boost to get through what he's going through," Habana said.

"The whole team is very empathetic to what he's going through and we send all our best to him."

Habana had to endure a career-worst 11 tests without scoring since mid-2010, with the pressure from supporters growing with every scoreless Test.

But when the opportunity finally came, thanks to a cut-out pass from Danie Rossouw which put him in the clear, Habana slid across the line and hardly reacted on the field.

"All I could think about was that I needed to go and thank Danie for the little pass that got me there," he said.

Captain John Smit gave Habana a congratulatory rub of the head and said he didn't say anything because he was tired after running from halfway to catch up with the winger.

But he knew what the try meant to Habana and the team.

"It's a monkey off his back," Smit said. "Everyone's been talking about why he hasn't scored after every game, and everyone's got on his back. But they don't have anything to talk about now."