Courtnall Skosan Photo: BackPage Pix
PLETTENBERG BAY – From playing club rugby in Cape Town, to getting a Springbok call-up, it’s been quite a journey to the top for Lions speedster Courtnall Skosan.

The 25-year-old is one of eight uncapped players in Allister Coetzee’s squad for the three-Test series against France this month. 

Skosan has been in wonderful form for Johan Ackermann’s top-performing team, and the eight tries that he’s racked up this season makes him the joint fourth-highest try-scorer going into the Test break.

Although Skosan wasn’t included in the first training camp, he says that his omission wasn’t at all discouraging. “I wouldn’t say so. My whole career is centred on faith.

“I believe God will let everything happen as it should. So, I believe if I put in the hard work it has to pay off somewhere or somehow. It wasn’t discouraging, I backed the guys who were there and they played great rugby at the time. I’m just happy to be here now,” he said. 

As for his call-up to the Bok squad… well, Skosan could only describe it as “amazing”.

“When I heard my name … the emotion that swept through me was something else. As a rugby player you always have higher aspirations and I think the guys around me who have been through this before inspired me so much.” 

The Lions star didn’t enjoy the kind of on-the-radar junior rugby that most other players who get to wear the Springbok jersey did. He played for Durbell at Under-20 level, and he recalls a special moment he shared with his coach that fuelled his belief in his abilities. 

“One day he (the club’s coach) told me: ‘You know, Courtnall, I really think you can play professionally’. And as a player you always have that dream, but sometimes you feel that things aren’t going too well for you and then you think ‘let me just go on’,” Skosan said. 

And ironically enough, it was in the abbreviated game that a young Skosan was noticed.

He took part in a Sevens tournament where former Bok wing Chester Williams was the coach of the invitational team, and Skosan shared the phone call that sparked his rugby career. 

“My coach told me that he got a phone call and that he wanted to have a chat with me (after the tournament). I didn’t know what it was about, so my coach and me met each other at McDonald’s, my father was also there, and my coach he told me that the Bulls phoned him and said that they wanted to trial me for four months.” 

Courtnall Skosan. Photo: BackpagePix

“I played Currie Cup, after that I made the SA U20 team and played a bit of Vodacom Cup.”

Now, a couple of years later, Skosan has a real opportunity to build a Springbok career that could become just as great as his one with the Lions. For Skosan, one of the most exciting aspects about that opportunity is the fact that he could step into the position that was for long held by his hero – Bryan Habana.

“For me Habana is a very special player. I used to have posters of him all over my door. He’s always been my hero. So, it’s just amazing that you may be have the opportunity to step into a jersey that has so much value and such a legacy,” Skosan said.

“When the announcement came, he sent me a message and said ‘congrats on your call-up, I’m proud of you’. And I told him I couldn’t express what that meant to me. We’re in contact on social media but we’ve never met in person. So, it was special to get that message from him.

“I remember a time where I watched all his videos to see what type of tries he scored and at a stage I ran like him,” Skosan said with a smile. “Hopefully I get the chance to meet him and just to thank him for what he did for me as a rugby player.” 

Just like his hero, Skosan is a player who really enjoys crossing the try line.

But he refuses to take all the credit. “Firstly, I have to thank the players around me. Like when we played the Reds, literally three of the tries I scored I just ran in to finish. The guys on the inside did all the hard work. But it’s great that I get the opportunities to do that,” he said.

“There are coaches who have put a lot into me over the past three years and I’m grateful for that. I can’t take credit for everything.” 

Skosan also had very kind words about the relationship the Lions players have, and added that their culture was a great part of his success. 

“At the Lions we have a family vibe. And people probably think it’s just something we say, but it really is. It’s something I felt when I walked into the door at the Lions, they immediately welcomed me with love.”

And judging by the great relationship Skosan has with his teammates, it’s quite easy to guess how he feels about his Lions skipper leading the Boks this year.

“I’m so happy for Warren (Whiteley), I’m happy that he’s been appointed captain. He’s really an amazing, inspiring leader and he’s someone who one can look up to. And I have no doubt that that will reflect here.” 

As for the Boks, Skosan added that he believes that this season is going to be a “special one”.


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The Star

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