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We Can Topple All Blacks - Habana

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Fuseworks Media
We Can Topple All Blacks - Habana

London, Dec 2 NZPA - Bryan Habana fondly recalls how the Barbarians nearly toppled the Wallabies a year ago.

And while the flying Springboks winger wasn't making any bold predictions, he warned a likely second-string All Blacks they'd need to be on their guard at Twickenham on Sunday (NZT).

"We're going to put up as big a contest as we can. I'm not going to say we're going out there to show we can beat the All Blacks, but we've got an amazing pool of talented players so the potential is there to pull out a win," he said.

Habana admitted he was hugely impressed by the All Blacks' 39-12 win over France last weekend, although few of that side will back up this weekend in the tour finale.

"It's a bit tough after having seen what they did to France last weekend. South Africa got team of the year but New Zealand are probably playing the best rugby out of all the teams at the moment."

It looks one of the strongest Barbarians sides of recent years, dominated by top Springboks -- who beat the All Blacks three times this year -- and Wallabies along with hard-running Welsh midfielder Jamie Roberts.

Habana will partner 60-test All Black Joe Rokocoko on the wings, with the latter out to show the selectors erred by omitting him from the tour after playing against the Wallabies in September.

Said Habana: "I'm a little bit surprised. Joe's been on the international circuit for six-seven years and he's been one of the best performers in the All Black jersey.

"He's had a good season. He's under a lot of fire at home with some top class wingers coming out of New Zealand. I think the coaching staff probably wanted to give the young talent a bit of a run.

"Someone of Joe's experience, you can't just chuck out the back door, and I know he's going to be banging down the door in the next few months."

Habana and Springboks teammate Victor Matfield insisted they were up for one more game after a marathon season -- even if they observed it was a balmy 34degC back in South Africa and single digit temperatures here.

Habana said the history and tradition of the Barbarians excited him, and the chance to mingle with Wallabies players they'd butted heads with all season.

Meanwhile in the All Blacks' camp, assistant coach Wayne Smith said this week was a tough balancing act between money making and player welfare.

While the match would provide one more chance for the fringe men to impress, and boost the New Zealand Rugby Union's coffers, the season remained too long.

"When I started with the All Blacks we had seven or eight tests in a year, now we're up to 14-15," he said.

"The landscape's changed totally. We keep saying it, but it's something that needs to be looked at for the welfare of the players."

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