World Cup Watch: Eddie Jones drops selection bombshells

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Australia coach Eddie Jones dropped the anticipated bombshells in leaving captain and flanker Michael Hooper and veteran five-eighths Quade Cooper out of his Rugby World Cup squad but set off a nuclear explosion in naming lock Will Skelton captain.

It was an appointment that caught many Australian critics unprepared.

Jones told the media, "My job is to come here and change the team, and part of that is changing the way that teams lead, and Will's a good team man.

"He's played a lot of winning teams in Europe and he brings that almost common touch to the team to bring together."

Jones cannot be accused of not taking a long, hard look at the captaincy role. In four Tests in 2023, the Wallabies have had four captains, and Auckland-born Skelton is the fifth.

Skelton was the first overseas-based player and the first of Pacific Island heritage to lead the side.

Skelton said, "With that comes a lot of responsibilities and a bit more pressure for me, it's just about being myself, leading the only way I can which is through my actions."

They may be pre-World Cup
friendlies, but this weekend's Test matches could see some significant events in the World Rugby men's rankings.

Wales and Scotland have return games with England and France, respectively.

For Scotland, another win over France by 15 points would see it achieve its highest ranking of fourth. It will be tough as France is fielding its first-choice combination.

Should France win, it wouldn't be able to achieve enough points to surpass the All Blacks in second place.

England can't improve on their sixth ranking if they win. However, a loss would see them drop to ninth.

A win would see Wales move in front of England and Australia, and if able to score more points than its 20-9 win last weekend, Wales would move to sixth place, supplanting Argentina.

Tonga, celebrating its rugby centenary, got a Rugby World Cup boost when it beat Canada 28-3 in Nuku'alofa in the first of two Tests.

Tonga led 21-3 at halftime after tries to hooker Sam Moli, captain and halfback Tane Takulua and No8 Sione Vailanu but had to play with 14 in the second half after former All-Black and second five-eighths George Moala was sent off for a dangerous tackle. Vailanu scored a second try.

Canada co-captain Lucas Rumball said his side paid the price with too many knock-ons and errors.

"It felt like we had all the possession, we had all the ball, and we were playing in the right areas.

"However, we were not able to finish and put ourselves under too much pressure."

The sides play again on Tuesday, August 15.


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