Skinstad fronts Highlanders

Bob Skinstad will make his Super 14 Sharks debut against the Highlanders.

The former Bok captain will be included in the match 22 and is expected to play the last half an hour. It will be Skinstad’s first Super match since he played for the Cats in the 2003 season. It will also be Skinstad’s first match in South Africa since the Boks 27-26 win against the Pumas in Port Elizabeth.

Skinstad, who is hoping to make the Springbok World Cup squad, has been training with the Sharks since December and the debut is the result of a carefully planned comeback under the guidance of Sharks coach Dick Muir. Skinstad, to his credit, has simply got on with the task of getting his conditioning to the necessary standard. He has stayed clear of the media, telling would be interviewers that it would be more beneficial for them to write about his performance than it would be for him to talk about potential performance.

He has insisted that his challenge is to play good rugby and that he was prepared to make it the hard way. He asked for no favours and wanted none. A week ago he played for the Wildebeeste and Kwazulu-Natal’s leading rugby writer Mike Greenaway described Skinstad’s performance as workmanlike and very solid.

Greenaway, speaking to this website, said Skinstad’s professionalism had been obvious from the outset and that he had settled comfortably into the groove in Durban. He had refused all media attention on the basis that he had done nothing to justify media. Greenaway said the Sharks forwards specialist John Plumtree had been working intensively with Skinstad in transforming his game.

“There has been an emphasis on him playing tighter and he is certainly prepared to adapt,” said Greenaway. “There was nothing spectacular in the Wildebeeste game. There was no showboating. He made a conscious decision to play 80 minutes and he got through it.”

Skinstad will be in the match 22 when Muir confirms the line-up to play the Highlanders and he is expected to start once the Sharks tour New Zealand and Australia.