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

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN South Africa

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.

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