Skelton enjoying role as ‘the finisher’

Giant lock Will Skelton is embracing his role as the Wallabies’ finisher, and has set his eyes on wreaking havoc against some tired Fijian legs in their World Cup opener.


Skelton, and his hulking 203cm, 140kg frame, has been used both off the bench and as a starter during Michael Cheika’s reign as Wallabies coach and is expected to feature in some form during Wednesday’s clash with Fiji in Cardiff.

Whether he starts or is unleashed late in the match, Skelton is sure to be a handful for Fiji’s forwards – who wilted late in the World Cup-opening clash with England.

The 23-year-old watched with interest on Friday as gaps started to open up, fantasising about what his enormous frame might be able to do given the same space.

“Whenever I start on the bench, I have a specific role to be a finisher (and) to bring impact,” he said.

“I always try looking for those advantages when guys are tired, looking at their weaknesses and trying to provide that platform for the backs who have been doing the work all game.”

Australia’s high-fitness and free-flowing style of rugby has the potential to leave opponents out on their feet, and Skelton was both aware of tactics designed to slow the play down – and that his own errors could have the same effect.

He was given a dressing down by Cheika at training on Saturday when a wayward offload ended up on the turf rather than in the arms of a teammate.

“Those little things there will give the ref the opportunity to make it a stop start game,” he said.

“Me dropping it leads to a scrum (whereas) if I hold onto the ball then we can get our go-forward going and our backs can score those tries out wide.”

Before conceding late tries, which handed England a flattering 35-11 scoreline, Fiji had handed out a few headaches with their enterprising forwards play.

Skelton was excited by the prospect of taking the challenge head-on.

“They have threats all round the park which can be scary and can be a challenge as well for us – especially the forward pack,” he explained.

“We’re looking at the scrum and we want to bar up, we want to take it to them in that front and be set-piece orientated going forward.”