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Exclusive: Bryan Habana says Springbok career may be over

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Could Habana make Springboks return? (1:56)

Bryan Habana spoke at DNAFit's London HQ about the upcoming Test between the All Blacks and South Africa as well as his International future. (1:56)

Springbok legend Bryan Habana is unsure whether he will play for South Africa again.

The 34-year-old -- who is just four appearances shy of the all-time Springbok appearance record set by the retired Victor Matfield -- hasn't played for Allister Coetzee's side since their shock loss to Italy in November last year.

Since then, the Springboks fortunes have turned around dramatically having swept France 3-0 in Test series at home in June before consecutive victories over Argentina and a recent draw with Australia in the Rugby Championship.

During that time Springboks coach Coetzee has relied less on overseas based players -- like Habana -- with Worcester Warriors scrum-half Francois Hougaard the only member of their current squad who is playing club rugby outside of South Africa.

Habana also hasn't been in consideration due to a long-term knee injury, having not played for his French club Toulon since April.

"At the present moment of time I know where I stand with Allister Coetzee," Habana told ESPN from DNAFit's London headquarters.

"I fully understand that leading up to a World Cup [Japan 2019], there needs to be a blooding of a new intake [whereas] I'm coming towards the end of my career.

"If I get an opportunity, maybe later in the year, to be a part of the Springboks then I would grab it with both hands but looking at the current crop of players I definitely think that Springbok team is in very good hands and the way they have gelled and performed over the last two or three months has been fantastic."

If it is the end for Habana, he'll leave the international game as one of great wingers of the professional era.

His 67 Test tries from 124 matches is second only to Japan's Daisuke Ohata, with the 15 of them scored at World Cup tournaments putting him equal with the late great Jonah Lomu.

He also won a World Cup with the Springboks in 2007 and was named the world's best player in the same year.

"If it is me being done, I can look back on my career and be unbelievably proud of not only what I have achieved but of what I have been able to be a part of," Habana said.

"Hopefully I've left the jersey in a better place than when I received it back in 2004.

"If I can contribute in any way or form I'd love to do it but at the moment looking at the squad it's in a good place so I'm not going to be shy if it doesn't happen for me anymore."

Habana has been a keen observer of the Springboks resurgence this year after what he described as a 'disastrous' 2016 campaign where they lost eight Test matches.

South Africa's next challenge doesn't come any tougher as they visit the All Blacks away in Auckland on Saturday.

The last time the two sides met the World Champions inflicted a record-setting 57-15 win in Durban in October.

"I think for this current Springbok team, it's probably not too different from any other time you face the All Blacks," Habana said.

"They're the number one team in the world, they're the World Champions and they are setting the benchmark for where rugby is going.

"[But] I think it's an exciting time for this young group of players. Eben Etzebeth has stood up massively from a leadership point of view. The likes of 'The Beast' [Tendai Mtawarira], Siya Kolisi, Elton Jantjies, the leaders in that team are putting their bodies on the line and leading that team unbelievably well.

"As individuals, the level of play has increased significantly from last year and as a collective we've seen a new team spirit and culture that has been embed into this team which has been really fantastic to see."