Eddie Jones knows Wallabies are immediately World Cup dark horses with this man
By Rugby Onslaught

Eddie Jones knows Wallabies are immediately World Cup dark horses with this man

Australia head coach Eddie Jones would have watched Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup with a keen eye on a few players.

Former All Blacks scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow was one to watch as he now qualifies for the Wallabies after a three year stand down period. But the coach’s focus would have largely been on lock Will Skelton, and he has surely been in communication with the higher-ups at Rugby Australia about the 31-year-old playing in the World Cup this year.

It is no coincidence that four of the last seven Champions Cup winning sides have contained the Australian (two with Saracens and two with La Rochelle) as he is surely up there as one of the most influential players on the planet.

His performance against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium was legendary. He make not have been named star of the match, his captain Gregory Alldritt was, but he was not far behind.

It is not often, if ever, that a 140kg player lasts the full 80 minutes, but Skelton can do it week in week out, and Jones will know how priceless that is. With ball in hand he almost never goes backwards and suits Ronan O’Gara’s ‘Keep Ball Alive’ philosophy with his offloading game. The added bonus is that he has become a lineout option as the European campaign has progressed.

Australia’s overseas policy is complicated at the moment, and while Skelton does not fit the 30-cap criteria to be one of the three overseas players permitted to play, he has played five years of Super Rugby, meaning he is a viable option for Jones. That does mean two players from the likes of Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, Samu Kerevi or Marika Koroibete would miss out, but few would argue that Skelton is not currently the best overseas Wallaby out there and certainly a player that very few countries have an equivalent to.

Take a look at his performance in the final: