Shane Williams 'a world great' - Springbok Bryan Habana

James Bevan Trophy - Wales v Australia

Venue:
Millennium Stadium
Date:
Saturday, 3 December
Kick-off:
1430 GMT
Coverage:
Live on BBC One & online and S4C, full coverage on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and Radio 5 live sports extra
Bryan Habana and Shane Williams as Barbarians
Shane Williams and Bryan Habana were Barbarians' team-mates in 2008

South Africa wing legend Bryan Habana says Welsh counterpart Shane Williams will be remembered as one of the greatest players in the game's history.

Williams plays his final Test against Australia in Cardiff on Saturday.

Habana, 28, said: "Shane will definitely be able to put his hand up there with some of the best, not only that have ever donned a Welsh jersey, but an international rugby jersey.

"We've had a few old torrid battles - he's won a couple, I've won a couple."

Williams and Habana share the accolade of being their countries' top try-scorers and have faced each other six times with the Springbok on the winning side on each occasion.

The Welshman has scored 57 tries in 86 Wales appearances while Habana tops the Boks' list with 40 tries in 74 Tests.

However, the South African says that honours are even in terms of their personal battles with each having beaten the other to score memorable tries.

They first clashed in 2005, when the Boks won 33-16 in Cardiff with Habana beating Williams to touch down at the corner.

On tour in June 2008, Williams scored in each of Wales' Test defeats. In the first Test Williams mocked his rival from under the posts by appearing to scan the horizon for Habana after cutting past him on the way to the line.

The duo also played alongside each other for the Barbarians in December 2008 when they lost 18-11 to Australia in the Olympic Centenary match at Wembley Stadium.

Neither scored on the last occasion they met, in the World Cup Pool stage in New Zealand when the Boks again won, 17-16.

But Habana, speaking after playing in the Barbarians' heavy defeat by Australia, says Williams looked anything but a veteran at the tournament.

"I have huge respect for Shane. It's sort of sad - the way he was dancing around in the World Cup, he looked like he was 19.

"So I think it's going to be sad for him not to don that Welsh jumper.

"He's given not only Wales, but the game of rugby a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm and he's put a lot of enjoyment on a lot of people's faces, not only in Wales.

"So it's when you get to the end of your career and you've been playing alongside those guys that you can measure yourself and I think Shane will definitely be able to put his hand up there with some of the best, not only that have ever donned a Welsh jersey, but an international rugby jersey.

"And we've had a few old torrid battles and he's won a couple, I've won a couple."

Habana says Williams' ability to overcome the tough times in his career has also shone through, highlighting Williams' impact in the final Test of the British and Irish Lions' tour to South Africa in 2009.

Williams had been named International Rugby Board Player of the Year for 2008, but was overlooked for the first two Tests.

But in the final encounter, with Habana a spectator, Williams scored twice as the Lions won 28-9.

"In that Lions series he had to fight his way hard into that last Test and when he got the opportunity he just showed how class he is," said Habana.

"Hopefully the highlights of his career far outweigh any of the disappointments that people remember because he's been an exceptional rugby player, not only for Wales, but also the rest of the world."

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