Saracens insist they have not had any contact from Rugby Australia despite Wallaby coach Michael Cheika revealing he will make a last-ditch attempt to convince Will Skelton to quit Europe’s top club and return to Australia and earn a place in the World Cup squad for Japan.
Cheika admits there are major obstacles to this happening but, given the way Skelton has transformed his body shape and rugby in recent times, getting the second row into the squad would give the Wallabies some much need ball-carrying power in a World Cup pool that includes current world No1 Wales and Fiji.
Mark McCall, the Saracens director of rugby, made it clear when Skelton signed a new contract with the club at the end of last season that it was on the basis that he would be able to cover the gaps in the club’s squad while Maro Itoje and George Kruis were on finals duty with England.
RugbyPass understands that Saracens have not as yet received any calls from RA about Skelton and expect him to continue at the club as they prepare for the new season.
Cheika, who names his 31-man squad for Japan on Friday, said in the wake of last weekend’s loss to the All Blacks that he planned to call Skelton. He confirmed at Fox Sports’ Rugby World Cup launch: “The team gets picked soon, so if he wants to come home he needs to get on the phone pretty quick.
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“I have coached him here at the Waratahs and he was selected in the last World Cup team, so he knows what it’s about, he knows what it means and he will make the call that will best reflect how he is feeling.
“(We will make some) realistic phone calls over there to get a final opinion and see if he wants to be involved or not. It’s not just a decision based on the World Cup, it’s also the long-term about where he plays his footy. It’s a big decision for him as well.
“Rugby Australia has got a good set of rules that give an opportunity to players who want to come home to have a bit of the best of both worlds.”
RA’s policy is that only players with 60 Tests to their name and seven years of Super Rugby experience can return for the Wallabies from overseas clubs, but former double World Cup winner Tim Horan is calling for a change to the rule.
“I get the Giteau rule… but I’m a big believer in a World Cup year you should be able to select anyone from around the world (no matter) where they are playing. Get the best team that gives us the best opportunity to win a World Cup.”
WATCH: Wallaby coach Michael Cheika and captain Michael Hooper after Bledisloe Two
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