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11th hour bid for Skelton

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Michael Cheika's 11th hour bid for Will Skelton

Wallabies’ coach Michael Cheika will ask one last time about giant lock Will Skelton before the selectors choose Australia’s Rugby World Cup squad over the next two days.

Cheika says several players who have not featured in the four Tests this year will come into the reckoning as he and fellow selectors Scott Johnson and Michael O’Connor decide the 31-man squad to be announced on Friday.

They include ace backrower David Pocock, prop Tom Roberston and exciting young backs Jordan Petaia and Jack Maddocks.

Cheika’s determined to examine every option, including England-based Skelton, who has made great strides with English and European champion Saracens.

Skelton has played 16 Tests, including two at the last World Cup before a tournament-ending pectoral injury, but he doesn’t meet the 60-cap criterion for overseas-based players.

He would have to commit to a return to Australian rugby to become eligible.

“‘We’ll have a look and see…whether his situation about coming back to Australia is any clearer,” said Cheika on Sunday, after returning from the Wallabies’ 36-0 loss to New Zealand in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup decider.

“If his contract situation was right to meet the rules that would be the only way,

“That’s highly unlikely right now with only a day or two to go.

“The rules aren’t going to change for him. There have been guys who have been slugging it out for four years who have been doing their bit.”

Cheika said the selectors’ initial discussions will probably be around the specialist positions like hooker and halfback and whether they will choose two or three players in each spot.

He said taking three of each would be a safer option and it would be a case of deciding if they favour a 17-14 or 18-13 split between forward and backs.

After the squad is selected it will travel to Noumea for a training camp before returning to Australia a couple of days before the final pre-World Cup Test against Samoa in Sydney on September 7.

“We looked at a few different options and I think the idea is to be a bit more remote,” Cheika said.

“Just us focusing on what we need to do, training hard and recovering well, no distractions, concentrating on the seven or eight weeks ahead of us after that.”

– AAP

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Michael Cheika's 11th hour bid for Will Skelton