Skosan ready to fill hero Habana's big boots in Bok No. 11 jersey

Courtnall Skosan Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Bryan Habana's future in the Springbok jersey is uncertain. There has been no real indication from coach Allister Coetzee whether Habana will add to his record 124 Test caps, and the 33-year-old speedster hasn't yet announced any plans to retire.

Habana played his most recent Test for Boks in last November's shock defeat to Italy. He was then dropped for the final match of their disastrous End-of-Year tour against Wales, and he hasn't been picked for the coming three-Test series against France -- the first of which is on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

But the South African record try-scorer has already forged a legacy in that No. 11 jersey. His pace, finishing, work-rate, and ability to create something out of nothing have made him a national hero.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the next man who will be don the No. 11 jersey for the Boks in their series opener against France had posters of Habana in his bedroom.

Courtnall Skosan grew up idolising Habana, and even copied the 2007 World Cup winner's running style as a schoolboy. On Saturday, at a ground where Habana won many matches and scored many tries for both the Bulls and Springboks, Skosan will get the chance to walk in his idol's proverbial boots.

"The guys who wore the jersey ahead of me inspired me to play for the Springboks," Skosan told KweséESPN.

"Bryan Habana is a very special player and he is a role model. My door at home was full of posters of Bryan Habana; he was my hero.

"Now I have the opportunity to put on a jersey that has a lot of value, and one in which somebody left a legacy. He is the top South African try-scorer of all time and that is something nobody can take away."

To Skosan's great surprise, the Toulon-based Habana sent him a congratulatory message when the Springbok squad was announced last month.

The two players follow each other on social media, but have surprisingly never had the pleasure of each other's company.

"It's crazy actually; when the announcement was made he actually sent me a message to congratulate me. I haven't met him before, but we have been in contact on social media," said Skosan.

"I watched videos of him and I actually copied his running style when I was at school. I hope to meet him one day, just to shake his hand to thank him for what he has done for me."

Springbok coach Coetzee will be hoping that Skosan can replicate his Super Rugby form with the Lions and do justice to the No. 11 jersey against France.

Like Habana, Skosan has plenty of speed and is a great finisher. These days, though, their running style isn't quite the same, as the Lions man depends a lot on his quick feet to get out of tight corner, while the legendary Habana is known for his wonderful left and right swerve at full tilt.

Skosan has scored eight tries thus far in the 2017 Super Rugby competition, many of them quite spectacular individual efforts. The Lions play a fast-paced, expansive game, and Skosan is certainly benefitting more out wide than a few other wingers in the country.

However, you still have to finish the chances that come your way, and the Cape Town-born player has proven to be one of the best finishers in the country. But the 25-year-old flyer has given his teammates at the Lions a lot of the credit for those scores.

"I first have to say thank you to the guys around me. Most times it's just me finishing off the hard work. If you look at the tries against the Reds, it was just me rounding off," he laughed.

The other aspect of the game that makes the Lions such a great side is their camaraderie; that family vibe within the camp. This current Lions team is by far the best South African Super Rugby team, but a team that has been built from scratch over the last four years.

While they play an exciting brand of rugby, they also play hard for the man next to them. There are seven Lions players in the Bok starting line-up for the first Test against the French, and that's probably why Skosan feels right at home at the Springboks.

"We have that family vibe at the Lions. We talk about it a lot, but it's really something you can feel, and it's something I felt on the day that I walked into the union," the winger said.

"It's feels similar in the Bok camp. I'm happy for [captain] Warren [Whiteley], because he is really an amazing person and an inspiring leader. He is somebody you can look up to and I have no doubt that his leadership will shine through here.

"I feel positive about our rugby. I believe this is going to be a special year for Springbok rugby. We have a special group of players. They want to be here and they want to work hard," he added.

South Africans will certainly watch Skosan's performance on Saturday with a lot of interest. But nobody will be more interested in his Instagram buddy's performance than Bryan Habana.