Legendary Springbok Bryan Habana said he is still able to play rugby and hinted that his recently announced retirement was forced upon him.
The Toulon wing, who has been on the sidelines with a knee injury for the past 12 months, announced on Tuesday that he will retire from all rugby at the end of the current Top 14 season.
Waking up and feeling properly overwhelmed by all the well wishes, kind words, love and appreciation. I’ll be taking it all in as I support my @RCTofficiel brothers finish the season. My sincere gratitude, appreciation and respect 🙌🏽
— Bryan Habana (@BryanHabana) April 25, 2018
The 34-year-old has now revealed that he felt fit to make a comeback but that Toulon’s coach, Fabien Galthie, disagreed with medical evidence which would have paved the way for his return.
“I returned to training five months ago,” Habana told AFP.
“The medical teams told me I was fit. Not to play is not my choice.
“I repeat, I have worked really hard for nine months to come back and I have not had the opportunity to play again.”
Habana, who won the Top 14 title and two Champion Cups since joining Toulon in the 2013/14 season, said he is disappointed that he is unable to retire on a high.
“Jonny Wilkinson retired after a double (in the European Cup with Toulon),” he added.
“(Former All Blacks captain) Richie McCaw quit after becoming a world champion.
“Me, I was unable to do this. To stop this season, it’s really tough. But this is the way things are. When I look at the past, I can say to myself well it was just one season that wasn’t great.”
Habana is the second-most-capped Springbok of all time with 124 Test caps.
He was a Rugby World Cup winner in 2007, made his Test debut against England at Twickenham in November 2004, when he scored the first of his 67 Test tries – the most ever by a Springbok.