Giant Australian lock Will Skelton has received heaps of praise after his barn-storming performance against Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup.
La Rochelle defeated the four-time European champions by 32 points to 23 as they booked their place in the Champions Cup final for the first time, where they will take on Toulouse.
Skelton played a crucial role in the French club’s historic win, as the former Wallabies lock constantly broke through tackles in close quarters with some of Leinster’s most physically imposing players.
Nom : Will Skelton
Profession : tracteur pic.twitter.com/sVSBH8A3Xk
— ErosRugby 🏉 (@ErosRugby) May 2, 2021
‘So dynamic for a big man!’
The Australian made 36 metres from 11 carries overall, and while that may not sound massively impressive, Skelton made the lion’s share of those metres after colliding with one or more Leinster players.
While he helped end Leinster’s European hopes for another season, the big man earned plenty of praise from former blues hooker Bernard Jackman after his tireless display.
— Bernard Jackman (@bernardjackman) May 2, 2021
“Well done to La Rochelle today, brilliant performance. Will Skelton was incredible for 80 minutes,” Jackman tweeted after the game.
Former Munster and Connacht back rower Robin Copeland, who had predicted that La Rochelle would win, was equally impressed with Skelton’s performance, commenting on the Australian’s surprising athleticism for his stature.
How good was big Will Skelton… so dynamic for a big man!
— Robin Copeland (@robocopey) May 2, 2021
“How good was big Will Skelton… so dynamic for a big man!” Copeland wrote.
Skelton’s journey from Sydney to London to La Rochelle.
The 28-year-old, who stands at 2.03 metres tall and weighs 125 kilos according to the official La Rochelle website, joined the French club at the start of the season after three years with Saracens.
Skelton had plenty of success during those three years with Saracens, as he helped the north London club to two Gallagher Premiership titles in 2018 and 2019, as well as the Champions Cup title in 2019.
The Australian originally struggled to adapt to playing in the Premiership, however, as he had to lose roughly 20 kilos to earn his place in Saracens starting team.
Shedding that weight has clearly helped the big man, as evidenced by his superb stamina on show against Leinster at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre.
Skelton has won 18 caps for the Wallabies to date but hasn’t played for his country since 2016, having left the New South Wales Waratahs in 2017.
The La Rochelle lock hasn’t given any indication on whether he is planning to return to Australia to win more international caps, but Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie would certainly welcome the big man if he does.