The Wallabies are looking at Will Skelton to bolster their World Cup campaign.
The Wallabies are looking at Will Skelton to bolster their World Cup campaign.

Forgotten big man on Wallabies radar after mauling

THE Wallabies could send an SOS to giant lock Will Skelton for their World Cup campaign after being physically mauled by the All Blacks.

Skelton is contracted to English club Saracens, but has been in discussions about potentially returning to Australia for the 2020 Super Rugby season with the Melbourne Rebels, allowing him to become immediately eligible for the Wallabies again in a loophole also used by halfback Nic White, and midfielders Matt Toomua and James O'Connor.

Skelton has not played for Australia since 2016, but has taken his game to a new level in the tough English premiership.

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His 135kg frame would have been handy at Eden Park on Saturday as the All Blacks forwards monstered Australia's pack in one of the most dominant displays for some time to retain the Bledisloe Cup with a 36-0 win.

It had been hoped Skelton could have returned for The Rugby Championship but has not been able to wrangle his way out of the Saracens contract.

However, Australian coach Michael Cheika revealed on Sunday that Skelton could yet be parachuted into his 31-man World Cup squad, to be announced on Friday, if a last-ditch deal can be made.

"I'm not sure even if Will Skelton is still on the table, we'll have a look and see what the discussion is there over the next day or two before the squad is selected, with his situation around coming back to Australia is any clearer.

Will Skelton on the charge for Saracens. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Will Skelton on the charge for Saracens. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

"He would be [a serious contender] if his contract situation was right to meet the rules. That's highly unlikely right now with a day or two to go, but the more to pick from, the more options that gives us all the time."

Rory Arnold and Izack Rodda would be certainties at lock, while Adam Coleman and Rob Simmons have been regular squad members, so if Skelton were to come back it would be at the expense of one of the latter two.

Cheika will meet fellow selectors Scott Johnson and Michael O'Connor to pick the 31-man squad for the Japan tournament.

"There's still some highly competitive positions, it depends on the configuration of the squad, how many forwards to how many backs, the specialist positions, how many of those," Cheika said.

Will Skelton last played for the Wallabies in 2016. Picture: Brett Costello
Will Skelton last played for the Wallabies in 2016. Picture: Brett Costello

"They'll be the first discussions to be had, and then from there we decide which players.

"We went 17 (forwards) 14 (backs) last time ourselves. It's either 18-13 or 17-14.

"You have a look at the draw."

The Wallabies will get away for a camp in Noumea after their World Cup squad is announced, before returning to play Samoa in Parramatta on September 7.

They'll fly to Japan the following day, playing their first World Cup match against Fiji on September 21, before their crucial second match against new world No.1 Wales.