12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Ireland centre and captain Brian O'Driscoll reckons Habana, who is nicknamed 'Dash' because of his searing pace, will slot into midfield just fine. O'Driscoll said: "With the calibre of player that Bryan is, I don't think the switch will make him any less dangerous. I'm sure he'll adapt very quickly.
"I think when you get to a certain standard, you can play in plenty of positions across the back line and he certainly fits that category. I guess he's a threat one step closer to the scrum, so he'll get more ball. I'm sure we'll have our hands full with him."
South African hooker and captain John Smit sporting the black eye he received during a training match against the Golden Lions Under-21s last week. The Natal Shark will create history this afternoon by not only equalling Gary Teichmann's record of captaining South Africa on 36 occasions but by becoming the first Springbok to appear in 40 consecutive matches.
Smit said: "Of it's a record held by Gary Teichmann then it is a huge honour to match it. He's a phenomenal man and one of our great captains. Garry has been very supportive of me. He was my first captain when I started playing at 18 and an unbelievable role model."
Habana lacing up his boots in the West Stand at Lansdowne Road. His captain Smit is adamant that the 'Boks will not let in Ireland for any soft tries today - especially after Ronan O'Gara's infamous quick tap try two years ago when the Irish out-half scored while Smit was talking to his players about the penalty concession. It set up a 17-12 victory for Ireland.
Smit said: "I've told the players to watch their opponents at all times. There was a bit of controversy surrounding that try. As South Africans we would like to blame that decision for losing, but we certainly had more than enough scoring chances to win that game, but didn't take them.
"Communication at Lansdowne Road can be a problem. One thing that is different at Lansdowne Road, compared to any other stadium in the world, is that the crowd feel on top of you," he added. "Communicating on the field in terms of the lineout, especially in the corners, is tricky and you have to have a quick line of communication. The crowd is really noisy."
South African coach Jake White has been on a charm offensive in the lead-up to today's Test match, as opposed to two years ago when he admitted that only three Irish players would stand a chance of making his Springboks side at the time.
This time around, the Johannesburg man gave his thoughts on the current standing of Irish rugby, saying: "You've got to credit Irish rugby. They have been boosted by Munster and Leinster doing particularly well in Europe, boosted by the fact that they have been able to keep a large group of quality players together - growing as a team with every experience - and the players benefit from have ten weeks off playing. That's a major benefit.
"Most of the pack come from one region, most of the backs from another, but the half-backs are together all the time. That makes for a pretty well orchestrated system. There are just so many positives that Irish rugby enjoys these days.
"I spoke to Clive Woodward about the best way to manage the build-up period to World Cups, and he suggested the Irish model was perfect. He wasn't wrong - they're giving themselves every chance of taking on and beating the big rugby nations, and they're making a fairly good job of it too."
Lions out-half Andre Pretorius practises his kicking at Lansdowne Road ahead of his first ever Test outing against Ireland. The 27-year-old has played 21 times for the 'Boks since making his debut against Wales in June 2002. Dubbed 'the little general' because of his 5ft 8in stature, Pretorius' points tally currently stands at 138 (2 tries, 25 conversions, 22 penalties and 4 drop goals).
Having fully recovered from a groin injury, Pretorius has had an excellent 2006 season to date, steering the 'Boks to Tri-Nations win over New Zealand and Australia in September. Noted as a solid defender and accurate kicker out of hand or from placed balls, his ability to unleash South Africa's outside backs at pace has set up many a try for Jake White's men.
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**