Wallabies boost locking stocks

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Returning coach Eddie Jones has called up France-based players Will Skelton and Rory Arnold to prepare for the season, with Skelton having developed to the point where he is regarded as one of the best locks in the world.

He has an impressive list of achievements with the Ronan O'Gara-coached La Rochelle side. He has played in eight grand finals in six years in the European Cup, England's Premiership and France's Top 14. He also shared in the Waratahs' 2014 Super Rugby success.

Skelton, who has played 19 Tests, suffered a torn pectoral at his first World Cup in 2015 and didn't make the selection for the 2019 event.

However, Skelton acknowledged he had yet to show his European form when playing for Australia.

"I have had a lot of opportunity in the jersey and probably not taken the best step forward, I think, performance-wise.

"But it's a different opportunity for me to come here and inject some experience and wisdom. I'm also older now and see what I can add to this team.

"We've got all the ingredients. With Eddie [Jones], with the squad, youth, experience, edge. That's what's needed to win the big games, in my experience.

"It's exciting times now for us, as a group we're building our connections, building our relationships because we know that's what's going to take us to that next level."

Edge was critical, he said.

"Edge is being tough at training, not letting guys go through in contact. It's competing every set, every maul, every scrum. And that starts at training and that will transfer to the field on the Saturday night or Sunday, whenever we play."

Former Brumbies lock Arnold, who has played 32 Tests, has just ended his contract with Toulouse and will play in Japan next season.

"He's a pest. When he's on the rugby field, he's a nuisance. In the lineout particularly, he's a menace. He's physical; he has that edge. His knowledge of the game is also up there with the best.

"I'm happy that Richie is here because he deserves it. He's been playing world-class rugby over at Toulouse and hopefully, he brings that experience and that form into the gold jersey."


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