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Will Skelton signs long-term La Rochelle with 4 other internationals

By Josh Raisey
Will Skelton of Australia looks on during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Georgia at Stade de France on September 09, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Former Australia captain Will Skelton has signed a contract extension with La Rochelle, keeping him at the Stade Marcel Deflandre until 2028.

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The 32-year-old headlines a list of seven La Rochelle players who have pledged their commitment to Ronan O’Gara’s side.

The 30-cap Wallaby’s compatriot Tolu Latu has joined him in putting pen to paper, signing a one-year extension after completing a midseason switch to La Rochelle from Montpellier last season. Fellow hooker Quentin Lespiaucq has also signed a deal until 2027.

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Skelton and Latu are two of five internationals in this flurry of signings, with Ultan Dillane signing until 2026, Samoa centre Ulupano Seuteni until 2028 and France flanker Paul Boudehent until 2029.

Academy product Thomas Berjon is the final member of the septet, with the scrum-half signing a deal until 2028.

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The playing members of staff are not the only ones committing to the Top 14 giants, as four staff members, Romain Carmignani, Sebastien Boboul, Donnacha Ryan and Gurthro Steenkamp, have signed new deals.

After captaining Australia at the World Cup last year, Skelton has not been included in Joe Schmidt’s first squad that will host Wales and Georgia this month, nor have any overseas players. He could make his return to the international fold in August, however, for the Rugby Championship.

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The 145kg lock addressed his international future when joining Johnnie Beattie on RugbyPass TV’s Fresh Starts.

“My focus is on trying to move on from that (France 2023) and perform well club-wise to get that opportunity again,” he said.

“With a new coach now as well, everything is a bit up in the air now for me and all I can really control now is home, and for me that’s club footy at La Rochelle.

“I have only heard good things about Joe. His resume speaks for itself. It is exciting to see someone of that calibre to take us forward to be where we want to be.

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“He is going to bring a lot of detail to the game which may have been lacking, and it is an exciting time to be an Australian rugby player, to aspire to be in that jersey because it is a fresh start.

“He is coming in with a clean slate and he will select who he wants. That might have been my last Test against Georgia last year!”

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