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'No mind games' - The latest on Will Skelton's availability

By PA
Will Skelton of the Wallabies embraces Jordan Petaia of the Wallabies after losing the The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Australia remain hopeful captain Will Skelton will be fit for their second outing of the World Cup against Fiji in Saint-Etienne on Sunday.

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The second row missed the Wallabies’ team photo shoot on Saturday having been troubled by a calf injury in the build-up to the Pool C clash at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

That sparked speculation the 31-year-old had been ruled out but line-out coach Dan Palmer insisted that was not the case.

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Ireland post-match press conference after Tonga win

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Ireland post-match press conference after Tonga win

Speaking at a press conference, Palmer said: “We are giving Will as much time as possible to get ready for the game.

“He’s in treatment, working with the physios at the moment. We’ll give him until the last minute.

“There’s no mind games, we are just giving him as long as possible. He’s an important part of our team and we’re prepared to do that. He might play and he might not.”

Palmer confirmed Matt Philip, who did feature in the team photo, will come into the side should Skelton fail to make it with David Porecki taking over as skipper.

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Veteran prop James Slipper, scrum-half Nic White and lock Nick Frost are also set to feature.

The Wallabies are looking for their second victory of the tournament after opening with a 35-15 triumph over Georgia.

Fiji are hoping to spring a shock after being edged out 32-26 in a thrilling clash with Wales last week.

Assistant coach Graham Dewes said: “If we’d just done a few things, nailed our basics, we would have nailed those opportunities we had. So, just do the basics and our natural game will flow.”

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Jon 1 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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f
finn 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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