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Skelton and Kruis to join forces in Baa-Baas engineroom

By Stefan Frost
(Photo by Visionhaus via Getty)

The Barbarians team set to face England on June 19 at Twickenham has been released and includes former Grand Slam winner George Kruis and La Rochelle’s Will Skelton.

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French head coach Fabien Galthié is at the helm of the Barbarians and so it comes as no surprise that his coaching staff have selected a squad filled with Top 14 talent.

Charles Ollivon will captain the famous Black and White and will make his debut for them alongside French teammate and Clermont winger Damien Penaud. Joining the Toulon talisman and former French captain in the starting pack is Will Skelton, fresh off his Champions Cup win with La Rochelle, his teammate and Fijian captain Levani Botia, Lyon’s back row star Dylan Cretin and former England international George Kruis, who is returning from Japan.

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Kruis left Saracens in 2020 to join the Saitama Wild Knights and is returning to Europe, having just won the inaugural Japan Rugby League One with the side. He announced a few months ago that he would retire come the end of the season and so this Barbarians appearance could prove to be one of his last in professional rugby.

Other starters in the pack include front rowers Trevor Nyakane of Racing, Pierre Bourgarit of La Rochelle and Toulon’s Jean-Baptiste Gros.

In the Barbarians backline, Galthié has picked Lyon’s Batiste Couilloud at scrum half and Antoine Hastoy at flyhalf, who has just confirmed his departure from Pau to join La Rochelle.

Other players appearing in the starting backline are Clermont’s Tani Vili and Racing’s Virimi Vakatawa in the centres, Lyon’s Georgian winger Davit Niniashvili and Racing’s Max Spring at fullback.

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The team is predominantly filled with fringe international players alongside a few big names.

The full squad selected is listed below:

Barbarians squad:

15 Max Spring (France, Racing 92), 14 Damien Penaud (France, Clermont), 13 Virimi Vakatawa (France, Racing 92), 12 Tani Vili (France, Clermont), 11 Davit Niniashvili (Georgia, Lyon), 10 Antoine Hastoy (France, Pau), 9 Batiste Couilloud (France, Lyon), 8 Charles Ollivon (France, Toulon, c), 7 Levani Botia (Fiji, La Rochelle), 6 Dylan Cretin (France, Lyon), 5 Will Skelton (Australia, La Rochelle), 4 George Kruis (England, Saitama Wild Knights), 3 Trevor Nyakane (South Africa, Racing 92), 2 Pierre Bourgarit (France, La Rochelle), 1 Jean-Baptiste Gros (France, Toulon)

Replacements: 16 Danny Priso (France, La Rochelle), 17 Christopher Tolofua (France, Toulon), 18 Sipili Falatea (France, Clermont), 19 Thomas Lavault (La Rochelle), 20 Yoan Tanga (France, Racing 92), 21 Nolann Le Garrec (Racing 92), 22 Louis Carbonel (France, Toulon), 23 Sekou Macalou (France, Stade Français), 24 Thomas Laclayat (Oyonnax)

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