Will Skelton has said his goodbyes at Saracens, the 28-year-old Australian preparing to embark on a new chapter in his career that will see him link up with Jono Gibbes’ La Rochelle in the Top 14. He initially moved to north London on a short-term deal from the Waratahs in December 2016.

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After impressing that winter in a season where Saracens went on to retain the Champions Cup, the 6ft 8in lock agreed to return on a permanent basis ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.

Named Saracens players’ player of the year in 2018, Skelton made the last of his 77 appearances for the club in the 24-13 March victory at Allianz Park over Leicester Tigers.

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“It’s pretty sad having to leave a great club and great environment,” said Skelton. “But I’m excited for the journey ahead. It’s been a special time here. From the first day you see how welcoming the boys are, you see first hand the culture that everyone’s talking about.

“I’m extremely grateful to the coaches and players for embracing myself and my wife and welcoming us to such a family.

“I came here wanting to improve and wanting to make an impact on the team and I think I’ve done that. I just want to thank all the coaches, the players and the support staff for investing in me and making my time here very special and a memory I’ll never forget.”

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Saracens boss Mark McCall added: “Will has contributed enormously to our club over the last number of years. On the field, under the guidance of our brilliant performance team, he showed great dedication to transform himself physically to allow his incredible talent to be hugely impactful.

“Off the field, he was a very thoughtful, supportive teammate who had the respect of everyone at the club.”

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