JOHANNESBURG – If you keep on knocking someone will eventually open the door. That’s the motto by which Courtnall Skosan has lived for the last two seasons.
And earlier this week, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee opened the door – if only slightly – for the Lions wing.
Skosan was invited to the third and final national training camp next week ahead of the announcement of the 31-man squad for next month’s three-Test series against France. It is a first call-up to a Springbok squad of any kind for the 25-year-old Lions stalwart.
He has been overlooked until now, in spite of him being one of the most consistent wing performers in South African rugby for a good few seasons now.
But thoughts of actually getting a Test chance in a few weeks’ time are the furthest thing on his mind right now.
“Look, I’m happy to have been invited to the camp, but whatever happens is not in my hands,” he said this week.
“We’ve got a big match to play this week (against the Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday) and all my focus is on that. And there’s still a game next week (against the Kings) before the June break so there are more important things to think about. We’re in a very important part of our campaign.”
Indeed, the Lions are sitting pretty after their three-match trip to Australia where they picked up 14 log points with wins against the Force, Rebels and Brumbies. They now have 46 log points thanks to 10 wins from 11 matches overall and are on course to play in the knockout rounds for the second year in a row.
And, for the second year running, Skosan and several of his team-mates have shone in one of the toughest provincial rugby competitions in the world. The winger is South Africa’s joint leading try-scorer, with the Kings’ Makazole Mapimpi, with seven tries.
Skosan also leads the way in the competition for overall number of clean breaks (25), while he’s the leading South African player and fourth overall for metres run with the ball (733m).
“It helps when the team plays well,” he said. “We make sure we keep each other accountable and at the end of the day all we want to do is be better people. We just want to go out there and enjoy ourselves and give the fans something to cheer about.”
And how the Lions fans have loved watching Skosan. He has thrilled with his electric pace, silky smooth running style and big heart in defence and under the high ball. He scored a whopping four tries earlier this year in his team’s 44-14 win against the Reds and will be hoping for more against the Bulls this weekend.
“They’re a quality side and we respect them fully, despite what they’re going through,” he said. “They’ve been unfortunate a few times this season and shouldn’t feel too bad … I know their hearts are in the right place. They’re going to come out guns blazing.”
Skosan said he and his team-mates are fully aware of the Lions’ position on the log table and expectations of them repeating last year’s efforts, or going one better and winning the competition this year.
“So much can still happen, but we’re happy with what we’ve been able to do up to now,” he said. “But we want to play better rugby each week, improve on our game, so there’s a new challenge for us each week.
“For me, personally, it’s another opportunity to play this weekend if I get selected. I’ve got a responsibility to my team and need to deliver again on the weekend. That’s all that matters right now.”
And if Skosan keeps on delivering like he has, Coetzee might not have any other choice but swing that Bok door open and invite him in. It would be long overdue.