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Sports : Bryan Habana identifies South Africa danger men Cheslin Kolbe and Makizole Mapimpi as biggest threats to British and Irish Lions

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Bryan Habana cannot wait to witness how Warren Gatland’s youthful Lions team deal with the pace of the South Africa wingers.

The former Springbok speedster will be part of talkSPORT’s coverage of the historic tour, which begins on Saturday at Murrayfield against Japan.

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Habana has plenty of experience of dealing with the Lions having been instrumental in the Second Test in 2009

Habana was a key man for South Africa in the 2009 Test series, scoring in the Pretoria Test to inspire a comeback from the hosts before Morne Steyn’s dramatic winning penalty.

Citing the Lions Tour as one of the biggest moments of his career, the former Toulon and Barbarians winger understood the significance of the Series and what it means to both the travelling party and the hosting nation.

Gatland has opted for a bold squad featuring a blend of all four home nations and the 38-year-old cannot wait to see how the two sides match up.

“You look at the likes of Billy Vunipola who didn’t make it,” Habana said on talkSPORT.

“Then Sam Simmonds, who has been playing phenomenal rugby for Exeter across the last two years. Youngsters like Louis Rees-Zammit and Duhan van der Merwe, potential bolters.

Simmonds has been in blistering form for Exeter and broke the Premiership try scoring record this season

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Simmonds has been in blistering form for Exeter and broke the Premiership try scoring record this season

“You’ve left out the kingpin in Johnny Sexton, but in Dan Biggar, Finn Russell and Owen Farrell, he has guys that can do the job.

“So Warren Gatland will know from what happened in 2019 in that World Cup that the physicality aspect is something that he will address really quickly.

“I think again, in someone as iconic as Alun Wyn Jones; who I think all us under-thirty but recently retired rugby players are vicariously living through, he will want him as a leader setting the standard for the physicality perspective.”

The blistering Rees-Zammit shone for Wales and Gloucester in the past 18 months

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The blistering Rees-Zammit shone for Wales and Gloucester in the past 18 months

South African born Van Der Merwe will hope to find success in his home nation

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South African born Van Der Merwe will hope to find success in his home nation

The Lions emerged from the New Zealand Tour in 2017 with a respectable draw against the World Cup holders and once again face a Southern Hemisphere side in possession of the William Webb Ellis trophy.

South Africa dispatched of Gatland’s Wales side in the semi-final, before beating England to lift the famous trophy in Japan after a stellar tournament.

Rassie Erasmus actually made his debut for the ‘Boks against the Lions in 1997 and has a devastating attacking line-up to choose from featuring some of the most devastating finishers in world rugby.

And Habana has warned the Lions anything less than their best will not be good enough.

Like Habana, Kolbe is now shining in France at club level too

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Like Habana, Kolbe is now shining in France at club level too

Mapimbi scored in the 2019 World Cup final against England in Japan

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Mapimbi scored in the 2019 World Cup final against England in Japan

He added: “In Makizole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, they’ve got two players who became the first ever South Africans to score a try in a World Cup final.

“But Chelsin has been lighting up fields around the world, for the better part of the last two years, and Makizole Mapimpi has become an absolutely inspirational, iconic figure for a big part of our population in South Africa.

“There are some up and coming young players like Aphelele Fassi and Sibusiso Nkosi who are ready to step up to the plate.

So I think South Africa are in good hands, with an old head like Willie Le Roux at the back, it just brings about a great balance between the youth and experience.

“I’m looking forward to that battle, alongside the like of a Rees-Zammit and Van Der Mere who have been included in the Lions squad.”





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