South Africa under pressure too

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Old 06-Sep-2011
South Africa under pressure too

Wellington: Winger Bryan Habana smiles when asked about the pressure of expectation on defending champions South Africa ahead of the rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

New Zealand's All Blacks enter the September 9-October 23 tournament as favourites to win on home soil, having not won the World Cup since the first in 1987, but they are not the only team under huge pressure to perform, Habana reminded reporters.

Tens of thousands of people gathered to farewell the Springboks in Johannesburg, the country's president Jacob Zuma basically ordered them to bring back the Webb Ellis cup, while they're coming off a poor Tri-Nations campaign in which they finished last for a second year in a row.

When the tournament kicks off, they are drawn to play Wales, Samoa, Fiji and Namibia in Pool D, which many pundits rate the toughest of the four preliminary groupings.

"Bar the physical side, the mental preparation for a World Cup, of getting yourself ready, having a send-off in South Africa where 65,000 people say goodbye, where you visit the President and... he tells you to bring the Cup back... it's fairly tough," Habana said.

"That expectation as South Africans, we're a very proud nation. We're very proud of our rugby. It's one of the big sports that has been able to unite the country.

"[It's a] tough challenge that we get laid on us as South Africa, but the pressure we put on ourselves as Springboks is much more pressure than anyone else puts on us."

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