Jeral Skelton was unveiled to his new teammates earlier this week after turning down several offers to play in the NRL following his decision to take a break from sevens rugby.
The 21-year-old loose forward had been playing with the national sevens side since 2017 with an eye on playing at the Tokyo Olympics, which were initially scheduled to be this year.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the suspension of the Games, pushing them back until 2021, while the remaining four World Sevens Series tournaments in Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris and London have also been postponed.
As a result, Skelton is instead preparing himself for a domestic Super Rugby campaign with the Rebels.
“I had quite a few offers from the NRL but my goal after sevens was to come to fifteens and play Super Rugby, even though I first started with league,” he told the franchise.
“So far, it’s been a great few days – the boys have really welcomed me into the program.
“Training wise it’s been a little bit different – getting used to how I play as a forward, having been so used to playing as a back in the sevens.
“But I’m learning every day and everyone’s supportive, so that really helps.”
While he shares the same surname as 2.03m, 125kg former Wallabies lock Will Skelton, who is his second cousin, Jeral is also first cousins with to two-cap Wallabies speedster Peter Betham.
“I am cousins with Will but I have never met him. We are second cousins,” Skelton told RUGBY.com.au last year. “I have met his parents but we’ve never met. We’ve spoken via social media.
“I am closer to Pete. We are first cousins and I used to stay with Peter’s parents when I first moved down (to Sydney), they helped me a lot.”
With Saracens second rower Skelton renowned for his incredible size and Clermont wing Betham known for his electric style of play, national sevens boss Tim Walsh once described him as being “like an NBA player”.
“He bounces around like an NBA player and he has an array of skills that really suits sevens,” Walsh told RUGBY.com.au.
“He is a jack of all trades and becoming a master of a few of them, too. He is learning the game and really starting to produce some world-class performances.”
Although his time in sevens has wrapped up for the time being, Skelton is just eager to be back out on the playing field in XVs.
“It’s so great having sport back on,” he said. “Going through training has been getting me more and more excited by the day.
“I just can’t wait to get the season started and do the best I can do for this club.
“Just build into the game, get some caps for the Melbourne Rebels and enjoy playing Super Rugby.”
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