Skelton was always destined to be Jones’ Wallabies captain after this class act
Amid his onslaught of carries, offloads and rucks hit in the Heineken Champions Cup final in May, there was one moment that eagle eyed viewers have spotted in La Rochelle lock Will Skelton’s game.
It came in the first half after the Australian had taken the ball into contact. After being halted by Robbie Henshaw and James Ryan, Skelton offloaded the ball his prop Reda Wardi, who was wrapping around the ruck. However, after receiving the ball, the prop’s knee collided with the head of Ryan, who was immediately struggling. Having seen what had happened, Skelton stood over Ryan while calling for referee Jaco Peyper to stop play.
Seeing as this was the biggest match of the season, and La Rochelle were under the pump at that moment in time, it would have been easy for Skelton to ignore his counterpart, but he has been lauded by fans from across the world for what he did at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Take a look at the incident:
— Kenneth Hyland (@kennethphyland) May 20, 2023
Ryan was swiftly replaced by Jason Jenkins on 29 minutes, in what turned out to be one of the pivotal moments of the match unfortunately. La Rochelle were able to grow into the game from there after initially being blown off the park by Leinster, who raced to a 17-0 lead. In fact, Leinster boss Leo Cullen rued not building a bigger lead in the first half.
“Devastation is probably the word,” Cullen told BT Sport after the match.
“The occasion, the amazing atmosphere in the crowd, both sets of supporters and two sets of players going full at it – everything you want in a final which goes down to one point. Unfortunately we’re the losers.
“We started the game really well. We could have been further in front. I thought we gave up a couple of softish tries. In the second-half although we had the lead we struggled to get out of that end of the field.
2023 Rugby World Cup Squad (age, professional club, junior club, Tests)
Angus Bell (22, NSW Waratahs, Hunters Hill Rugby Club, 23 Tests)*
Pone Fa’amausili (26, Melbourne Rebels, Moorabbin Rams, 5 Tests) *
Zane Nonggorr (22, Queensland Reds, Gold Coast Eagles, 2 Tests)*
Blake Schoupp (23, ACT Brumbies, Woonona Shamrocks, uncapped)*
James Slipper (34, ACT Brumbies, Bond Pirates, 131 Tests)
Taniela Tupou (27, Queensland Reds, Brothers Rugby Club, 48 Tests)
Matt Faessler (24, Queensland Reds, USQ Saints, 1 Test)*
David Porecki (30, NSW Waratahs, Seaforth Raiders, 14 Tests)*
Jordan Uelese (26, Melbourne Rebels, Eltham Rugby Club, 18 Tests)
Richie Arnold (33, Stade Toulousain, Gentlemen of Murwillumbah, 4 Tests)*
Nick Frost (23, ACT Brumbies, Hornsby Lions, 12 Tests)*
Matt Philip (29, Melbourne Rebels, Newport Juniors, 28 Tests)*
Will Skelton (c) (31, La Rochelle, Wentworthville Magpies, 28 Tests)
Back Row (5)
Langi Gleeson (22, NSW Waratahs, Harbord Harlequins, 3 Tests)*
Tom Hooper (22, ACT Brumbies, Bathurst Bulldogs, 3 Tests)*
Rob Leota (26, Melbourne Rebels, Northern Panthers, 16 Tests)*
Fraser McReight (24, Queensland Reds, Albany Creek Brumbies, 12 Tests)*
Rob Valetini (24, ACT Brumbies, Melbourne Harlequins, 34 Tests)*
Issak Fines-Leleiwasa (27, Western Force, Port Douglas Reef Raiders, uncapped)*
Tate McDermott (vc) (24, Queensland Reds, Flinders Rugby Club, 25 Tests)* Nic White (33, ACT Brumbies, Muswellbrook Healers, 63 Tests)
Carter Gordon (22, Melbourne Rebels, Sunshine Coast Grammar School, 4 Tests)*
Lalakai Foketi (28, NSW Waratahs, Manly Roos, 5 Tests)*
Samu Kerevi (29, Urayasu D-Rocks, Souths Magpies, 45 Tests)
Izaia Perese (26, NSW Waratahs, Easts Tigers, 5 Tests)*
Jordan Petaia (23, Queensland Reds, Wests Rugby Club, 27 Tests)
Outside Backs (5)
Max Jorgensen (18, NSW Waratahs, Balmain Wolves, uncapped)*
Andrew Kellaway (27, Melbourne Rebels, Hunters Hill Rugby Club, 23 Tests)*
Marika Koroibete (31, Saitama Wild Knights, Nasinu Secondary School, 55 Tests)
Mark Nawaqanitawase (22, NSW Waratahs, Wests Juniors, 6 Tests)*
Suliasi Vunivalu (27, Queensland Reds, Saint Kentigern College, 2 Tests)*
Ben Donaldson (23, NSW Waratahs, Clovelly Eagles, 2 Tests)*
Josh Kemeny (24, Melbourne Rebels, Easts Rugby Club, 1 Test)*