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Skelton given Australia opportunity

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie is preparing to unleash giant second row Will Skelton against France on Saturday.

The 22-year-old, who stands 6ft 6in tall, steps in for former Wallabies captain James Horwill who drops to the bench for the third and final Test against the French at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

Skelton's strong carries have been a feature for the high-flying Waratahs in Super Rugby this season and Australia fans will be eager to see if he can replicate that at the highest level.

"During the series we've already benefited from giving two other locks, Sam Carter and Luke Jones, their first opportunities for Australia," McKenzie said. "The experience they gained will prove invaluable in the long-run and now it's Will's turn to show us what he has got.

"He's obviously got impressive metrics but he also has a big motor and is particularly skilful, so we're looking forward to seeing how he will impose himself on the game."

McKenzie's side are chasing a series whitewash over the French after winning a desperately dull encounter 6-0 last week to add to a 50-23 triumph in the first Test.

If they manage to beat the tourists this weekend it will mark the first time since 1999-2000 - the last time Australia were world champions - that they have won seven Tests in a row.

Skelton's inclusion is one of two changes to the starting XV, with Wycliff Palu returning to number eight after missing the 6-0 win in Melbourne.

The French fronted up during that marginal defeat and they need to come back strong again as they stare down the barrel of a potential 13th loss in 19 Tests since the start of last year.

Coach Philippe Saint-Andre, who has recalled Hugo Bonneval and Fulgence Ouedraogo for the clash, may face some tough questions if that is the case.

"We wanted to have continuity with the team. Fulgence has been brought in because we felt we had trouble sticking to the ball when we had good opportunities. Hugo Bonneval can bring his speed and punch," Saint-Andre told L'Equipe.

The former Sale coach has also called up Christopher Tolofua, Vincent Debaty and Maxime Machenaud to the bench as Maxime Medard drops out of the 23-man squad.


Australia: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Bernard Foley, Nic White; James Slipper, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu.

Replacements: Nathan Charles, Scott Sio, Laurie Weeks, James Horwill, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne.

France: Brice Dulin, Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval, Remi Tales, Morgan Parra; Alexandre Menini, Guilhem Guirado, Rabah Slimani, Alexandre Flanquart, Yoann Maestri,Thierry Dusautoir, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Damien Chouly.

Replacements: Christopher Tolofua, Vincent Debaty, Nicolas Mas, Bernard Le Roux, Louis Picamoles, Yannick Nyanga, Maxime Machenaud, Remi Lamerat.


From Belfast Telegraph