11 May 2017

More to Springbok talent drain than cash

9:50 am on 11 May 2017

Bryan Habana insists the Springboks' talent drain is not down to money, revealing many South African stars move abroad in search of a better life.

Springbok Bryan Habana.

Former Springbok Bryan Habana. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

World Cup-winner Habana does not expect World Rugby's extended five-year residency rule to keep top prospects in South Africa - because of the country's unique political tribulations.

The residency qualification period to represent a new nation will be extended from three to five years in 2020, as rugby bosses bid to stop stars switching allegiances.

Toulon wing Habana does not expect the switch to help stem the flow of South African stars moving overseas however, with scrum-half Faf de Klerk joining Sale Sharks this summer.

The 33-year-old Habana insisted South Africa's crime levels and the continued politicisation of rugby will keep pushing top players to seek moves abroad.

"I think a lot of people outside South Africa don't understand that there are a number of unique things happening in South Africa at the moment," Habana said.

"Not only from a rugby point of view, but from a political, economic and safety point of view.

"A lot people think rugby players go overseas to gain money, to gain a residency in another country, but there are so many different factors which people take into consideration."

Habana's passion for South Africa burns as brightly after 124 Springboks caps as it did when as a 13-year-old he watched Nelson Mandela sport Francois Pienaar's number six shirt at the 1995 World Cup.

South Africa must heed the mandated transformation policy of selecting squads comprising 50 per cent of players of non-white ethnic origin by 2019.

While Habana fully endorses the policy for his home country's political future, he also admits the fruit of that ruling will force more stars to move overseas.

"A lot of youngsters might move given the transformation charter which has been put down from a political point of view," Habana said.

"It wasn't just South African Rugby saying we are putting a transformation plan in place, it was put on the union.

"It's such an intricate thing that if you don't come from South Africa then you'll never understand it.

"When these youngsters move, it's not just about leaving South African shores, it's about taking your future into consideration."