Leviathan Sydney University second-rower Will Skelton made one of the finest Wallaby debuts for many years when he helped Australia to a 39-13 win over France in the Third Test at Allianz Stadium, Sydney, on Saturday afternoon.
The match was just 10 minutes old when the 203cm Skelton used his 140kg frame to literally carry two French defenders over the line to score Australia’s first try.
And early in the second half he exhibited another of his array of skills, with a deft, soft pass to rampaging fullback Israel Folau, who streaked away to score under the posts.
Having won the First Test 50-23 and the Second Test 6-nil, Australia made it a clean-sweep in the series which featured a host of Sydney University Football Club members.
Tighthead prop Laurie Weeks and hooker Nathan Charles made their debuts in the Second Test when they became capped Wallabies No.881 and No.882. (Skelton is now No.883.) Others SUFC players to feature in the series were Folau, tighthead prop Paddy Ryan, five-eighth Bernard Foley, halfback Nick Phipps and backrower Ben McCalman.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie opted to give Skelton a start at the expense of former captain James Horwill.
And he was vindicated in making that tough choice when Skelton more than made his mark. McKenzie said Skelton’s brilliant debut showed the Wallabies attack was more than fullback Israel Folau.
“Everyone talks about Will’s size. I’ve always liked his game sense,” the coach said.
“You need a point of difference whenever you play any team. The more threats you have the more complicated it is for the opposition defence. The threats don’t need to be limited to fullback. They can be right across the park.”
Aside from his try and try assist, Skelton was more than useful at the breakdown where his strength was amazing against a tough opposition.
McKenzie said the second-rower would be difficult to ignore for the first Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks on August 16.
“I’ve been really impressed with his attitude and the contribution he’s made to this team since the beginning of the series,” he said. “He’s obviously got impressive metrics but he also has a big motor and is particularly skilful, 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.”