Will Skelton admits loving playing as boss Ronan O’Gara on Rugby ’08

Will Skelton Ronan O'Gara

La Rochelle lock Will Skelton has revealed he often plays as his head coach Ronan O’Gara on the PlayStation 2 game Rugby ’08.

Giant Australian lock Skelton is set to play a crucial role for La Rochelle against Toulouse in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup final, after his rampaging performance against Leinster in the semi-final.

The former Wallabies lock was speaking to RTE ahead of the biggest game in the European club rugby season, and praised former Ireland and Munster fly-half O’Gara.

Will Skelton on Ronan O’Gara.

“He is a legend of the game. Me and the boys get the old Rugby ’08 up on PlayStation 2 in the team room, and we often play with Ireland, and we put him on the pitch. He’s got a 95 rating or 99 rating, or something,” Skelton said.

“I didn’t know how he would go as a coach, though, because it doesn’t always transfer – being a great player into a great coach – but for me, he has been awesome.”

Will Skelton on Ronan O’Gara: ‘In one of my first games, he ripped into me.’

While Skelton admires O’Gara as both a player and a coach, the Irishman hasn’t been afraid to be harsh with the sizeable Australian forward, who has had issues with his fitness in the past.

Skelton joined La Rochelle at the start of the season after three years with Saracens, and while the Australian lock had to trim down when he arrived in London to satisfy his new coaches, O’Gara was unimpressed when he turned up in France.

While the former Wallaby admitted that he himself was unhappy with his physical conditioning, O’Gara’s not-so-tender encouragement spurred him on even further.

“He has been someone who has helped on the side of, I guess, playing to your strengths. For me, having a coach like that, it’s the little stuff,” Skelton explained.

“I remember, in one of my first games against Toulouse, he ripped into me, Lopeti (Timani) and Uini (Atonio), and he just said in front of the whole team, ‘You’re not fit enough’.

“It was a wake-up call that I had probably been saying in my head, but then to hear it from one of the coaches was an eye-opener. I guess he is that type of coach. He is pretty direct, he is straight, and I enjoy it.”

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