‘Will Skelton return a game-changer’ – Michael Hooper

Planet Rugby

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper believes that the prospective return of Will Skelton to the squad will be a huge boost to the team.

According to reports in Australia, Dave Rennie is set to name a large group for the end-of-year Tests which will include the gargantuan second-row.

Skelton hasn’t represented the national team since 2016 but has thrived since moving to the northern hemisphere, firstly with Saracens and currently with La Rochelle.

The lock is fitter and able to go the full 80 minutes at club level, and Hooper is excited about potentially seeing the 29-year-old in a gold jersey once again.

Made a real impact

“He’s got the ability to change a game. His size, he’s a great fella to have around the team,” Hooper said. “Really good, in terms of off-field stuff.

“For the lack of rugby I’ve seen him play, I’ve heard a lot of good things in terms of he’s been in shape, he’s had a real impact in the (English) Premiership and now, he’s up in France, and I’ve heard some great things around that.

“It’s been a long time since he’s been in the jersey, so it’s great to hear he’s keen to be involved and things like that. Love big Willy. He’s great to have in the team.”

The return of Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi has shown what experience and quality can do, with the Wallabies winning their past three Rugby Championship matches.

They have made significant contributions to Australia’s revival and Hooper believes that their excellence both on and off the field has been a crucial factor in that.

“Depth and experience allows that stuff to transfer between players,” he added. “Ideas are shared and all that sort of stuff. Also, some handing down of experience, which is something we want to keep growing, as well.

“It really is great that a lot of our guys that are in the team now, grew up watching some of those guys play and were still at school when those guys were playing.

“To get the opportunity to play with them breeds a lot of excitement about the jersey, in house as well.”