Bob thinks ‘Lem’ was the toughest on the field


Bob Skinstad didn’t need hours of thinking when Dodge Woodall asked him on his Eventful Lives podcast who was the toughest rugby player in his playing days.

Henry “Lem” Honiball was the lightning answer.

According to Skinstad, at the time he picked up the ball in a match between the Western Province and the Sharks and Durbanite’s flyhalf was his immediate opponent.

“I thought that it would be easy to get over the advantage line; I just had to shoulder him.”

But the former Springbok captain was badly mistaken by Honiball’s razor-sharp defence.

“I lowered my shoulder a little and thought that I was ready for him. But then I ended up in a hospital in Claremont!”

Honiball, who played in 35 tests for the Springboks between 1993 and 1999, deserves much more praise than he has received.

As Pieter Kruger rightly summed things up earlier – he was one of the Boks’ most valuable players.

He scored 156 Test runs, had a win percentage of 74% and was unbeaten in four Tests against the All Blacks. His only defeats against the New Zealanders were when he played centre.

The late Ian McIntosh, the legendary former Sharks knitter, was full of praise for Honiball.

“Henry was undoubtedly the greatest jintelman to ever play, he is certainly the most humble player I have known in my coaching career. He never expected anything in return, he never complained and never spoke ill of anyone,” McIntosh said.

Even Tony Brown, the Springboks’ new New Zealand attack guru, admitted that the Estcourt native is his big hero.

“The Goats have their own identity and their physical play is a very important link in their formation. At the same time, the team boasts incredible athletes; of the best in the world,” said the Kiwi flyhalf.