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Jones out to better Habana
6 June 2008 12:34pm
Wales winger Mark Jones is relishing his duel with predatory Springbok superstar Bryan Habana in tomorrow's opening Test in Bloemfontein.
But while Jones respects Habana, who has scored 30 tries in 46 Test appearances, he is determined to enhance his own reputation by containing the 24-year-old.
The Llanelli Scarlet said: "In modern-day sport, you want to come up against the best in the world.
"Habana's certainly up there at the moment. He's had a fantastic season and is on top of his game, so it's a huge challenge.
"He's got raw pace - there's no doubt about that - but he's developed his all-round game as well.
"His reading of when the intercept pass is on is uncanny. Many of his tries for South Africa and the Blue Bulls come from intercepts.
"You have to be wary of that. He doesn't do it all the time; he just mixes up his defence very well.
"He makes his tackles and also like to compete for the ball after he's made a tackle. His kicking is good too.
"He's renowned for his finishing and game-breaking ability - but actually he's a very good all-round player.
"I hope when I come up against him I'll put on a good show and won't let anyone down."
Habana was famously filmed racing a cheetah over 100 metres in April last year and Jones revealed he has been locked in his own battle against nature at Wales' Cape Town team base.
The 28-year-old said: "There was a tortoise in the garden, and I had a couple of runs against him and took him quite comfortably - so I'm feeling confident.
"Habana has the mantle as the man who raced a cheetah, and that's hard to beat."
Jones missed the end of the season following groin surgery but has defied expectations by proving his fitness for the first Test against the world champions at Vodacom Park.
He said: "Ideally I'd like to come into the Test match with more rugby, but that's the hand I've been dealt.
"I knew I might come in short of conditioning. But I've done extra whenever I can and hope that will carry me through the next few days. I'm feeling strong."
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