After failing to make Michael Cheika’s Australia squad for next month’s World Cup, Saracens lock Will Skelton responded on Monday by signing a new two-year deal with the Champions Cup winners.
There had been rumours for months that the Wallabies were going to find a way to wrangle the 27-year-old into their Test squad even though Skelton, with only 18 caps, was not eligible to be picked under the Giteau rule which states that any overseas player should have over 60 international caps.
A move like that would have seriously weakened Saracens going into next season, and fans on social media are wary of how strong Sarries are with him.
The transformation that Skelton has gone through since arriving in north London in 2017 is staggering. He has shed a lot of weight, has since become fitter, more mobile and more powerful.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) August 26, 2019
His international career had stalled when he was still in Australia, but he has undoubtedly reinvented himself with Mark McCall’s team and would surely have made the Wallabies team if he were allowed.
Such has his transformation been that he started in both the Champions Cup and the Premiership finals, forcing England lock Maro Itoje to play as a loose forward. Those on Twitter seem all too aware of how crucial Skelton is to Saracens and the way they play.
Rugby Australia are looking beyond World Cup 2019 and considering what tweaks can be done to the Giteau rule https://t.co/lbYHxAQB1L
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 27, 2019
Losing him would have left a huge dent in their pack, so this contract extension is a statement of intent by the club and a sign that they will still be the team to beat going into next season. This is what has been said:
Skelton was an integral part of Sarries winning the title last season with his physicality and handling – securing him long-term is a big statement by Mark McCall's side. https://t.co/8vCwHjO8qp
— Andrew (@AMSinclair97) August 26, 2019
Brilliant piece of business for both player and club. Skelton has reinvented himself at Saracens. https://t.co/KS8Mg9XTK0
— Miles Bennett Rugby (@MilesBennettRGB) August 26, 2019
Brilliant news ! Been fantastic since he first arrived at Saracens & it getting better & better ! Huge news ahead of a new season ! ???
— Kate (@k_iddon) August 26, 2019
— Joe Sheehan (@jodys75) August 26, 2019
Outstanding team player and essential cog in the heart of the team
— Denis Collen (@dcollen) August 26, 2019
Fab news, here's to another two barnstorming years!
— Oliver Archer (@trombiker) August 26, 2019
With England and British and Irish Lion Elliot Daly arriving at Allianz Park next season, as well as the likes of Jack Singleton and Rhys Carre, there will be no let-up from Saracens in their pursuit of a fourth European title and further Premiership honours.
However, as good as those signings are, retaining Skelton may prove to be the best bit of business for the club all summer.
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