Will Skelton of the Waratahs. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Will Skelton of the Waratahs. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Will Skelton making a big 135kg impression on rivals

WILL Skelton has only been playing rugby 'seriously' for three years, but he has already made a huge impression - not surprising when you consider he's 203cm (6 feet 8 inches) tall and weighs in at 135kg.

The imposing 21-year-old lock made his debut for the Waratahs off the bench in the win against the Stormers in Sydney a week ago, just a month after putting pen to paper on a contract to play for the New South Welshmen for the rest of the Super Rugby season.

The Sydney University and National Academy representative first grabbed the attention of coach Michael Cheika after the Sydney-based academy had a hit-out against the Waratahs.

That led to a three-month stint as an invited player before the Waratahs offered the Auckland-born Skelton a permanent deal.

A rapid rise in the game when you consider, Skelton, a cousin of former All Blacks lock Brad Mika, did not really start playing rugby until he joined Sydney University at 18.

"I played a bit a school, but not anything serious," Skelton, who is the second heaviest player in this year's Super Rugby competition behind Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna (137kg), said.

"I was a league player from under-7s all the way through until I left school, but I did like rugby, and decided to give it a good go.

"To be honest though, I never thought I would be where I am today - when Michael (Cheika) told me I was going to get offered a contract, I just couldn't believe it.

"I couldn't wipe the smile off my face then, and it's still pretty hard to hide it now. Getting paid to play rugby - it's the best job in the world."

But it's not only playing for the Waratahs that is still sinking in.

"I used to love watching Issy (Israel Folau) play league, and now I get to train and play alongside him. That's a pretty cool feeling," Skelton, who moved across the Tasman when he was 10, said.

The Tahs tackle the table-topping Brumbies in Sydney tonight, and Skelton has been named on the bench.

"We are keen to show them how far we've come since they beat us 35-6 in Canberra in round three," he said.

"I hope I get the chance to have a run at them."

TEAMS:

Waratahs: Israel Folau, Cam Crawford, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Drew Mitchell, Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis (c), Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Paddy Ryan, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: John Ulugia, Sekope Kepu, Will Skelton, Mitchell Chapman, Matt Lucas, Berrick Barnes, Peter Betham

Brumbies: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Ben Mowen (c), George Smith, Peter Kimlin, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio. Reserves: Siliva Siliva, Ruan Smith, Fotu Auelua, Colby Faingaa, Ian Prior, Robbie Coleman, Pat McCabe



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