Will Skelton is racing the clock to steer the wounded Wallabies of their ultimate pool match in opposition to Portugal however coach Eddie Jones is hoping it’s not the final World Cup for the large lock.
Skelton has an sad World Cup historical past, with each his 2015 marketing campaign and the present France match wrecked by damage.
Eight years in the past, enjoying in Birmingham, Skelton suffered a pectoral damage in Australia’s second match in opposition to Uruguay and was changed within the squad.
This time, the Wallabies captain hurt his calf at training following their opening victory over Georgia.
The loss of the 135kg wrecking ball, as well as heavyweight prop Taniela Tupou with a hamstring injury, derailed Australia’s game plan.
The 31-year-old has only played 30 Tests, shifting his career overseas after the 2017 Super season and was overlooked for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
But Skelton has stamped himself as one of the game’s premier locks, playing central roles in multiple domestic and European titles for Saracens and La Rochelle – which is why Jones thinks he has far more rugby in him.
Skelton himself said he might be too old, but Jones wants to see him at the next World Cup in 2027, hosted by Australia.
“He’s 31 years of age, so you look at blokes like Whitelock and how well they’re playing at 34-35 and there’s no reason why the next four or five years can’t be the best of Will’s career,” Jones told AAP.
“He looks really healthy, incredibly healthy – he’s lost at least eight kilograms which he needed to do as he was too heavy.”
Skelton was a left-field choice for World Cup captain but Jones felt it was a no-brainer.
“Will Skelton is the most incredible bloke – he’s never captained a team before but he’s a leader,” he said.
“He plays for Saracens and they win, he plays for La Rochelle and they win.
“You go to those clubs and the player they talk about the most is Will Skelton and that was one of the reasons why I thought he’s going to be the captain for us.”
Following their 40-6 thrashing by Wales Skelton said he was working hard with the team medics to be right for the Portugal clash in Saint-Etienne this Sunday (Monday AEST), with Australia desperate to salvage something from a tournament to forget.
“I’m in a tough position, being injured I’m on my own sort of rehab journey, but I’ve got to be around the boys a lot more in my messaging and in making sure that we’re united and connected this week,” Skelton said.
“It takes a day or two emotionally to get back after a loss like that as it’s still quite raw but we will build the week into a performance that we can be proud of.”