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'Become a real leader': Will Skelton a 'valuable asset' for Wallabies

By AAP
Will Skelton of Australia bumps off Kevin Gourdon of France (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

His giant size and local knowledge make lock Will Skelton a “bloody valuable asset” for the Wallabies against France, according to teammate Jed Holloway.

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The Wallabies meet the world No.2-ranked side in Paris on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) aware they need to improve on their muddled performance at Murrayfield against Scotland, which yielded a 16-15 victory.

Playing for French Top 14 side La Rochelle, Skelton was unavailable for that match but joined the Wallabies at their French training base this week.

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Standing 203cm and weighing some 140kg,  Holloway said his former NSW Waratahs teammate immediately made his presence known.

“I haven’t seen Will since he left the Tahs, but same thing, you feel the big hand come over your shoulder, which basically reaches down the belly button his fingers are that big,” Holloway said of Skelton’s greeting.

“He’s just the same old dude – very humble, very big presence.

“He’s just going to be awesome to have around the team as he’s got a family now, he’s become a real leader.”

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The Wallabies’ set piece stood up well against the Scots, with their lineout competitive and their scrum getting some pay.

Youngster Nick Frost was the stand-out, with the 23-year-old troubling the Scotland lineout and topping his team’s tackle count.

Fellow lock Cadeyrn Neville was also a solid performer, popping the pass for skipper James Slipper to score Australia’s only try.

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But the physicality that Skelton brings, as well as his experience playing six years in the northern hemisphere, can’t be ignored if they are to match the Six Nations champions at home.

“I thought the locks played really well on the weekend – I thought Fruit (Frost) and Cadeyrn probably had their best games but in saying that Willy’s been playing 80 minutes and knows the French, knows guys who we’re playing against,” Holloway said.

“I’m not a coach and not a selector but I just know that if he does play he’s going to be a bloody valuable asset.”

Whoever does line up needs to improve at the breakdown, which Scotland dominated early in the match to force the Wallabies into errors or penalties.

Holloway said their accuracy there was off and that it would continue to be a focus at training this week.

But he felt that if they played “the Wallaby way” they could take it to France .

“We just need to be more clinical and focus on our game and what we provide; we know that if we can produce out best performance we can take it to them.

“We’ve showed that multiple times – that South African game, the All Blacks‘ first Test, we were right there – we know if we play the Wallaby way we can get really close to these guys if not beat them.

“They’re going to be tough at home; the second-ranked team in the world for a reason, they’re big bodies, they run hard and we need to front up.”

Meanwhile, starting halfback Tate McDermott is expected to be available for selection despite leaving the field following a head knock against Scotland.

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