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'Something I didn’t think was coming': Skelton out to make good on Wallabies return

Wed, 03/11/2021, 4:31 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallabies lock Will Skelton and prop Taniela Tupou have spoken to media from Edinburgh.

Wallabies lock Will Skelton is looking to make the most of his Wallabies return, something he thought was out of reach at stages of his European stint.

Skelton made the tough choice to head overseas in 2017, linking up with English club Saracens.

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It's there where the trimmed-down Skelton made his mark on European Rugby, establishing himself as one of the premier locks in the world.

Having got the call-up as a result of relaxed eligibility laws for 2021, the 29-year-old was eager to impress the new coaching staff as he pushes for a spot in a red-hot Wallabies side.

"It’s good to see the boys again. International environments are something which are very special so I’m happy to be back,” Skelton told reporters. “It’s been nice to be back involved and mingle with the boys.

“There was stuff I couldn’t control (about a return earlier). I have loved my rugby over here in Europe and to be able to add value here with the squad is something I’m excited about.

“…There’s a few guys (in the squad) that I haven’t met before but you can see comradely in the group. Everyone cares about each other and there’s a bit of banter on the first day which was good.”

Will Skelton was red carded for a shot on fellow Aussie Richie Arnold. Photo: Getty Images

Skelton's return has been floated for several years as the La Rochelle powerhouse continued to impress.

Whilst COVID restrictions and the impending birth of his child prevented it from happening last year, a phone call from Dave Rennie opened the door for Skelton to re-join and reconnect.

“I spoke to (Director of Rugby) Scotty Johnson last year with the shortened Rugby Championship. It was a massive bubble that they did for 12 weeks and he asked me to come there and it didn’t work out because my wife was pregnant and I didn’t want to leave her,” he revealed.

“I thought the door was closed and then Rens (Dave Rennie) gave me a phone call in the middle of the year and said 'if you’d like to be involved, we’re looking at you'. He just said keep playing good footy and we might be involved with the team.

“You see how well the boys have been going looking for afar, a lot of the boys would say but you want to be involved and see what’s happening with the group. New group, coach, staff so it’s exciting and has been a lot of fun from my perspective.

"...I played a lot of club rugby with guys like Hoops. Most of them have left...you build relationships with them at the start of your career and to be able to play internationals for your country is the ultimate.

“It’s something special and something you never take for granted so to be involved with the group again it’s something I didn’t think was coming, I’m just grateful to be here."


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Having joined camp at the start of the week, it would be a tight race against time to get Skelton up to speed with the Wallabies structure and system before the game against Scotland on Monday morning (Australian time).

However, Skelton refused to rule it too soon, sending the message that the impending European arrivals were more than just extra training numbers.

“We went through a bit of detail last night. The shape is quite simple, it’s something as a rugby player you have to get used to early. I’m not sure (if I’ll be ready), you’ll have to think what Rens thinks,” he added.

“We’ll definitely be putting our hands up, all the boys coming in because we’re not here to sit back and train for three weeks, we want to put our hands up for selection.

“We’ll be trying to get our head around it for a seven-day turnaround.”

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