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Dublin: 15 °C Thursday 18 September, 2014

Waratahs giant Will Skelton set for Australia debut against France

The mammoth 22-year-old lock will add major bulk to the Wallabies’ pack for the third Test.

Skelton in action against the Lions last summer.
Skelton in action against the Lions last summer.
Image: Rob Griffith

WILL SKELTON, THE Waratahs’ imposing lock, is set to make his Australia debut in the Test match against France on Saturday.

The 22-year-old has been in strong form for his Super Rugby side and at 6ft 8ins and 140kg [22 stone], will add major bulk to the Wallabies pack.

Skelton is a native of New Zealand and played U20s rugby for Samoa, but has been living in Australia since his youth. A cousin of former All Black Brad Mika [who was 6ft 6ins and 125kg], Skelton is in his second season with the Waratahs.

The mammoth lock has impressed with his ball-carrying, high work-rate and often surprising handling ability. Skelton’s short linking passes and offloads have been a welcome feature to compliment his unique size.

“I’ve been really impressed with his attitude and the contribution he’s made to this team since the beginning of the series,” said Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie. “He’s obviously got impressive metrics but he also has a big motor and is particularly skillful, so we’re looking forward to seeing how he will impose himself on the game.”

“He’s worked really hard over the past 12 months at the Waratahs on improving his match conditioning and we believe he is ready for the step-up to Test Rugby.”

Remarkably, Skelton’s 19-year-old brother Cameron stands at 6ft 9ins and weighs 135kg. The lock is currently with Samoa U20s at the Junior World Championships. Even more alarmingly, the 13-year-old Skelton brother, Logan, is already showing signs that he will be the biggest in the family [below].

The only other change to the Wallabies XV ahead of the third Test against France at Allianz Stadium sees Wycliff Palu come in at No. 8. Skelton’s Waratahs teammate replaces Ben McCalman at the tail of the scrum.

Australia have already secured a series win thanks to victories in the opening two Tests.

Australia (v France): Israel Folau; Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins; Bernard Foley, Nic White; James Slipper, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu; Rob Simmons, Will Skelton; Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper (capt.), Wycliff Palu.

Replacements: Nathan Charles, Scott Sio, Laurie Weeks, James Horwill, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne.

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