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Skelton delighted with Wallaby recall and eager to play

Skelton delighted with Wallaby recall and eager to play

FILE PHOTO: Australia Rugby Union - Australia's Captain's Run - Stade de France, Saint-Denis near Paris, France - 18/11/16 Australia's Will Skelton during the captain's run the day before a match between France and Australia. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Giant lock Will Skelton is delighted to have been recalled by Australia after a five-year absence and expects to be in the selection mix for Sunday’s test against Scotland at Murrayfield despite only joining up with the team on Monday.

Skelton is one of three French-based players recalled by the Wallabies for their autumn internationals, with fixtures to come against England on Nov. 13 and Wales one week later.

Tolu Latu and Rory Arnold have also joined the team for the end-of-year tour, with their selection coming after Australia relaxed an eligibility rule that barred overseas players with less than 60 test caps from selection.

“There is always something very special about being in the environments ahead of internationals, so I'm happy to be back,” Skeleton told a news conference as Australia began preparations for the clash against the Scots.

Asked if he ever expected to make a comeback, Skelton said: “Probably not. Not until they change the rule. Really it is what it is.”

Rugby Australia said in August it was rethinking the rule to improve the depth in the squad but had not made any binding decision.

Instead, it has allowed the exemptions as a temporary measure based on "extenuating circumstances" in the COVID-19 era, including the need to balance the "mental and physical wellbeing of players".

The rule was intended to protect domestic rugby and prevent a talent drain to more lucrative markets but it has been blamed for Australia's slide down the world rankings and a quarter-final exit at the 2019 World Cup.

“I love playing rugby over here in Europe but to be also able to add value here with the squad is something I'm excited about,” Skelton added.

“To be able to play with some of the guys you grew up with, for your country is the ultimate. It's very special and should never take for granted. To be involved with the group again, is something that I didn't think was coming so I’m just grateful to be here.”

The 29-year-old Skelton, who plays for La Rochelle, said he was not sure what coach David Rennie was planning with Sunday’s team selection. “But I’ll definitely be putting my hand up,” he said.

“We're not here to just sit back and train for the three weeks, we want to try and be involved,” he added.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: Reuters


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