Wallaby-in-waiting Will Skelton has been benched for the Waratahs’ clash with the Melbourne Rebels.
Big Will Skelton is poised for Wallabies squad selection but that hasn’t saved the in-form lock from being benched for NSW’s Super Rugby clash with the Melbourne Rebels.
The 125kg second-row giant is one of two Waratahs dropped from the starting side following their 41-13 thumping of the Lions at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.
Skelton has been rotated out for South African cult figure Jacques Potgieter to start, while Matt Carraro has made way for Alofa Alofa on the right wing.
They sit on an extended nine-man bench for Friday night’s Weary Dunlop Trophy match at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.
Skelton looms as a near certain call-up to Ewen McKenzie’s 32-man Wallabies squad for next month’s three-Test series against France with teammate Kane Douglas on the outer after signing with Irish club Leinster.
Skelton’s 80-minute display against the Lions included plenty of barnstorming runs, off-loads and hard graft.
Waratahs defence coach Nathan Grey, who joined NSW’s staff from the Rebels late last year, warned that the home side would have their tails up following their 30-27 win over Queensland.
“They are always tough to beat at home and they’ll have a lot of confidence, highlighted by their first away win over the Reds,” said Grey.
“Plus in their last home game against the competition-leading Sharks, they put themselves in a position to win.
“They’ve got good support and they’ll have the crowd screaming for them.”
Waratahs: Israel Folau, Alofa Alofa, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis (capt), Kane Douglas, Jacques Potgieter, Paddy Ryan, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Res: Hugh Roach, Jeremy Tilse, Sekope Kepu, Will Skelton, Stephen Hoiles, Brendan McKibbin, Jono Lance, Matt Carraro, Pat McCutcheon, Taqele Naiyaravoro (two to be omitted).