Vodacom Stormers lock Ross Skeate had a great Vodacom Super 14 in 2006. Now the lanky second-rower is looking to make an even bigger impact in the 2007 version of the tough Southern Hemisphere rugby competition.
Skeate on Tuesday said he was encouraged by the way the players have been responding at training thus far. “The guys have been very keen on the training field. I think the best thing about our squad at the moment is the attitude towards training.
“The guys are working hard and the results are showing, they are in good shape and the hard work is paying off.”
The youngster formed an impressive second-row combination with Andries Bekker last season and said he hopes the experience of 2006 would come in handy next year. “From a personal point of view I learnt that this tournament is so long and each game so intense the attrition rate is high,” explained Skeate.
“You have to prepare well and you have to be recovering well and look after the body – the basic things. That is why it is important to put in the hard work now already.”
Skeate only made his debut for the Vodacom Stormers in this year’s competition, but played like a veteran. With the Stormers squad likely to be largely made up of the youthful Western Province squad of this year, Skeate would be expected to take a leading role.
The 24-year-old has a word of advise for his less experienced mates. “My advise to them probably would be to put in the hard work at pre-season training. They should go into games with a positive attitude and be involved.
“They should just go out and play the game. If you give 100% week in and week out things will happen for you.”
The former SA under-21 lock is aware that the Stormers are facing a tough tour to New Zealand and Australia, something that thus far has proved to be a burden for the South African teams.
Skeate, however, is not perturbed by the arduous tour. He, in fact, is looking forward to it. “I think I am quite lucky because I really enjoy traveling. I like playing at different stadiums every week and staying in hotels. I really enjoy those things.
“I know it’s been dubbed the tour from hell, but I am looking forward to it. Making those long flights across and staying in hotels… I’m taking it positively.”
Skeate knows nobody in the squad can take a place in the starting XV for granted. He said the fact that there is such healthy competition amongst the locks is only beneficial to the team.
“I’ve always been a big fan of healthy competition in the squad. That certainly was the case in the Currie Cup. When guys are pushing for a position it brings the best out of the players and it is good for the squad. The more depth in the squad the better for the team.”
Skeate said he put on a few extra kilograms on his tall frame during the break after the completion of the Currie Cup season. And he also set a few personal goals for himself for 2007, which include being part of the Springbok team for the World Cup.
“I am feeling really good, strong and fit. I think my biggest goal obviously would be to improve on last season’s form. I’ve got a bit of experience behind me now and hopefully I can use it positively.
“I want to be as valuable as I can for the team. My first goal would be to establish myself in the Stormers starting line-up. Then I would love to be part of the World Cup squad. That is what will drive me in the Super 14.”