British & Irish Lions

Bryan Habana: Warren Gatland's record adds 'spice' to British & Irish Lions' SA tour

  • Warren Gatland set for third tour as British & Irish Lions head coach.
  • The Welshman has guided the Lions to a series win over the Wallabies and a draw against New Zealand.
  • Former Bok wing Bryan Habana says a Lions tour is about more than sport.

Former South Africa winger Bryan Habana, a key part of the Springbok side that notched up a thrilling series win over the British and Irish Lions in 2009, said next year's tour will have an extra edge to it due to Warren Gatland's impressive record at the helm of the invitational side.

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Gatland takes charge of the Lions in 13 months' time after having led the touring side to wins over Australia in 2013 and a draw in New Zealand four years later.

"It's going to be massive. Twelve years on we're in a fortunate position as South Africa as we go into it again not only as the world champions like in 1997 and 2009 but we go into it as previous series champions," Habana told AFP in an interview.

"What is going to add an incredible amount of spice to this specific tour, bar the fact that South Africa are world champions, is that Warren Gatland is vying to be the first Lions coach to have not lost a series in the three southern hemisphere countries," added Habana, who has helped launch the MatchKit application since ending his playing career.

Habana, who scored a sensational try in the second Test as the Springboks won the series 2-1 in 2009, said the Lions' visit to the Rainbow Nation is about more than just the sport on the field despite next year's schedule being two games shorter than the previous one to South Africa.

"I know in 2009 the Lions did an incredible amount of work in the townships in South Africa in giving back, in donating, not only clothing and kit but building fields and training sessions with under-privileged," he said.

"It's an eight-week tour that has been cut down to six or seven now, it's that experience in its totality that rugby doesn't have."

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