Former Wallaby Will Skelton was an integral part of La Rochelle’s shock win in the Heineken Cup semi-final, with his bruising carries powering over Leinster’s defence.

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Skelton made 11 carries against Leinster for 42 running metres, often smashing past the first man to give La Rochelle consistent gain line carries. The Australian big man tormented the likes of opposite Devin Toner, bashing through Leinster’s ruck defence frequently.

Skelton’s power game was all too familiar for the Irish club, who have fallen to other teams in past European competitions who play a physically dominant style.

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The former Wallaby missed out on selection in the 2019 Rugby World Cup while playing for Saracens where he had been based since 2016 after joining on a short-term deal.

Skelton made headlines for his dramatic body transformation after leaving the Waratahs, where he slimmed down his big frame to become a more athletic ball carrier.

He was a part of many successes at Saracens, including two Premiership titles and one European title in 2019. He was named the club’s player of the year in 2018 for his performances.

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As part of the salary cap squeeze, Skelton decided to join up with La Rochelle last year as Saracens were regulated to the Championship and is on the verge of winning his second European title with the French club.

Australian fans took notice of Skelton’s dominant display, and began the campaign to have the 29-year-old selected back into the Wallabies squad while abroad. One fan wrote he would make a ‘huge difference’ to the Wallaby team, another implored Dave Rennie to ‘at least have a look’ at the impressive lock.

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Australian rugby journalist Christy Doran implored Rugby Australia to bring back both Skelton and Rory Arnold, saying ‘they’ve got to be in Dave Rennie’s plans’ for the next World Cup in France.

For his damaging displays in European competition, he was shortlisted for European Player of the Year along with teammate Gregory Alldritt and three Toulouse players, Antoine Dupont, Jerome Kaino and Julien Marchand.

With both French clubs making the final, it is no surprise that the shortlist was dominated by the two teams.

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