FormerEncouragement from former Lions coach Johan Ackermann helped speedster Courtnall Skosan in his decision to join Northampton.
Skosan, who rose to stardom at the Lions in the golden era under Ackermann, moved to the Premiership this season and has been a Saints standout. The 30-year-old speedster scored a hat-trick on debut, and has gone from strength to strength since.
After being named the club’s player of the month in October, Skosan spoke about how he was settling into his new life.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here and get that jersey over my head. There’s a big legacy at this club; it’s a big town that loves their rugby, so you just feel so welcome whenever you’re driving around, going into a store.
“When you’re finding your way in the neighbourhood, the neighbours come and say, ‘Well done at the weekend’ or ‘Welcome to Saints’. It’s just special for me to be here.”
Skosan was keen to stress the psychological boost that players receive from playing in front of a home crowd – something South Africa’s players have not experienced in over two years.
“When I came here for the first weekend, I was at the London Irish game and that was quite an exciting game to watch. You kind of got just that little bit of a feeling, walking in, seeing a crowd in the stadium for the first time in a year and a half. When I played my first game, there were 13,000 people here, and I hadn’t played in front of crowds for two years, so that was quite special as well.
“I’m not a showman, but I feel the crowd just brings such a special element to the game. They give you that energy in those moments when you’re down, a little bit tired, especially here when they start singing ‘When the Saints go marching in’. That’s where you get your energy from sometimes.”
Asked about how he was finding life at Saints, Skosan was quick to herald the family atmosphere at the club.
“That was the nicest thing for me, the guys made me feel very welcome. Some of the guys gave me a lift on days when I didn’t have my car, they helped me take my kids to school.
“It’s small things, but it makes a difference. It means I felt that family vibe when I came in.”
The wing also revealed that before embarking on his new chapter in the Premiership he got a call from an old mentor with some well wishes.
“Coach Johan Ackermann gave me a call days before I came and said: ‘You’re going to enjoy this place so much. It’s a lovely town, with lovely people, you’re going to enjoy your rugby and you’re going to grow as a person as well’.”