Ackermann was right - Skosan does love life at Saints!

If the smile constantly adorning Courrtnall Skosan's face is anything to go by, Johan Ackermann was right.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:31 pm
Courtnall Skosan

Ackermann called the South African wing when he heard he was joining the Saints - and he told the flying winger he would love life in Northampton.

Ackermann, who was at Saints during his playing days, coached Skosan at the Lions in Super Rugby.

And Skosan explained: "Coach Johan Ackermann gave me a call before I came here and he said 'listen, mate, you're going to enjoy this place so much because it's a lovely town, lovely people and a lovely place to be'.

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"He told me I would enjoy my rugby and grow as a person as well so I'm excited to be here.

"I'd been in South Africa for the past 12 years of my career but I'd been watching a lot of rugby from here and when the opportunity came up, it was probably a month before I came here.

"When the opportunity came up, it was definitely one I wanted to take because I love the way Saints play, I love the players here and the way they think about the game.

"It was nice for me to hear they were looking for a winger and it was interesting for me to hear they had chosen me to come here.

"I'm so grateful to come here."

Skosan has been joined in Northampton by his family.

He said: "I'm here with my wife and two kids, two boys, four and two years old so we're all here, settling in.

"We're getting the boys in school now so we're getting back to our normal routine again."

The Skosan family had to spend time in quarantine after arriving in England but they are now free to explore Northampton, and Courtnall's rugby has already taken off.

He scored five tries in his first two appearances for Saints, including a hat-trick on his debut against Worcester Warriors, and was named the club's player of the month for October.

And he admits it was more than he could have dreamed of.

"I don't think you ever think of that stuff," Skosan said. "You just want to get a bite and win the trust of the players - you want to be out there fighting with them.

"I'd been watching all the games for the past few months and I was hungry to get going.

"It's special for me to be here and when I was in quarantine, I just wanted to get out of it and get in the town and be here, to start training with the boys and to meet them.

"When I got here, I came to watch the game against London Irish and it was quite an exciting game to watch.

"I got that feeling when I was walking in - it was the first time I'd seen a crowd in a stadium for a year and a half so that was special as well.

"When I played here for the first time there were about 13,000 people here and I hadn't played in front of crowds for the past year so that was special as well.

"I'm not a showman, it's just the crowd brings such a special element to the game and they give you that energy when you have those moments when you're down in the dumps.

"When you hear 'the Saints go marching in', it's where you get your energy from sometimes.

"It was special to be out there on my debut and to make it a memorable night for me.

"To get a debut and have three tries, the boys made it special for me.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here, to pull the jersey over my head.

"It's a big legacy at this club, a big town that loves their rugby.

"I just feel welcome even when I'm in the store or I'm finding my way in the neighbourhood and I have neighbours saying 'well done on your try at the weekend'."

Skosan has not only been impressed by the people at Saints, but the way they go about things, too.

He said: "The way they do things here is very professional with the way the guys look after their bodies, the medical team, the coaches, the attention to detail is the biggest thing here.

"You have the freedom to be yourself and you are welcomed and accepted, that was the nicest thing for me.

"The guys made me feel welcome and guys gave me a lift for a few days when I didn't have my car.

"They helped me take my kids to school and these are small things but they make a difference.

"I felt that family vibe when I came here and that's special for me."

Skosan had noted the success of compatriot Cobus Reinach before arriving at Saints.

"Cobus does very well wherever he goes and he did very well here," he said.

"After coming here was when he got called up by the Springboks again and that was special."

While Skosan's demeanour only varies between happy and super happy during this interview, he knows Saints could do with a few more smiles on Friday night.

They travel to Bristol Bears in the Gallagher Premiership on the back of a run of four successive defeats.

And the 30-year-old said: "It's more about the mistakes we've made on our side.

"It's stuff that is fixable and things we can change on our side so hopefully we can come out this weekend, put an 80-minute performance together and get the result we're looking for.

"It's going to be an exciting game this weekend because they like a free-flowing style and we've got that in our arsenal as well.

"It's going to be a bit of fighting fire with fire and it's going to be interesting this weekend."