Composed Bosch helps Junior Boks snatch draw at the death
The Lions speedster is confident in Springbok captain Whiteley, hopes to continue Habana’s good work, writes
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. (10) 23 (12) 23 JUNIOR Springbok No 8 Juarno Augustus and flyhalf Curwin Bosch were the big heroes as the South Africans drew their opening game of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship against France in Tbilisi on yesterday.
Augustus scored a try in the
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 McDonalds, 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.”
“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 83rd minute from a driving maul and Bosch held his nerve to kick the conversion in a match that looked to be heading the way of the French, who dominated the encounter.
As it turned out, Augustus also scored the opening try of the match, in the second minute, while Sharks Super Rugby star Bosch’s accurate kicking kept the Junior Boks in the contest throughout.
It was not the kind of performance South African fans or Junior Boks coach Chean Roux would have expected. The South African side was stacked 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”. with players who’d featured at the tournament in Manchester last year, while there were also men in the squad who have turned out for the SA Sevens team, other Super Rugby sides and several who featured in the SA Schools team last year.
It was an error-ridden and lethargic performance by captain Ernst van Rhyn’s men. They never laid any kind of platform up front and the handling and kicking by the backs was poor, to say the least. There was also little intensity in the showing, and at times it looked as if the players didn’t actually know what to do with the ball. Was there a gameplan of any kind?
The French, though, were excellent in most departments. They were powerful up front, and their backs found plenty of space out wide to exploit and in their No 10, they have a player who looks like a Test star in the making. Romain Ntamack – who is the son of legendary French Test wing Emile – was outstanding as first receiver and his two drop-kicks midway through the second half almost took his team to victory.
After Augustus’ opening try and Bosch’s first penalty on the Courtnall Skosan. seven-minute mark, it looked as if the Junior Boks were well in control of matters and even the TV commentators felt a big score could be in the offing. How wrong they were. French fullback Romain Buros scored a try straight from a restart after charging down a clearance kick and then the Junior Boks fell to pieces. Under a wave of attack they lost Wandisile Simelane and Gerhard Steenkamp to the sin bin, before Florian Dufour finished off from a driving maul.
Deservedly up at the break, the French moved further ahead after the restart when No 9 Baptiste Couilloud found space down the blindside to score his team’s third try before Bosch closed the gap to four points with a second penalty.
Ntamack then slotted his dropgoals to help France into a 23-13 lead, but the Junior Boks finished with a flourish thanks to Bosch, who struck a 63rd minute penalty, and Augustus’ late, converted try.
It was a forgettable performance by the Junior Boks, who also still have to face Georgia on Sunday and Argentina next week Friday before the knockout rounds.