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NZ-born lock is new Wallabies weapon

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Update: 11:25AM Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie admits the selection of super-sized lock Will Skelton for his Test debut on Saturday is more about breaking the All Blacks' Bledisloe Cup stranglehold than intimidating the French.

At 203cm, 140kg, Skelton is believed to be the largest Wallaby in history.

The Auckland-born lock and cousin of former All Black Brad Mika will bring obvious strength and power to the Wallabies pack, but McKenzie says he picked Skelton for his brain not brawn.

He replaces World Cup captain James Horwill as the Wallabies target a clean sweep of France in the final match of their three-Test series at Allianz Stadium.

But with bigger fish to fry than Les Bleus, McKenzie is hoping Skelton's vision and soft hands can provide the X-factor the Wallabies need to end the world champion All Blacks' 12-year trans-Tasman dominance.

"Everyone talks about his size, but I've been more impressed by the skill touches," McKenzie said.

"I've said for years now the thing that's defined the All Blacks is the forwards' contribution to passing in the game.

"You'll find that the All Blacks, their forwards might make up to 25 per cent of the passing in the game. Most other countries are around the 12 per cent mark.

"So having forwards who can create opportunities creates lots of diversity in the game.

"It's easy to crash the ball up. It's knowing when to do that and when to create opportunities for someone else and I've seen him do that a number of times this year and that's the thing that has impressed me the most."

Skelton's selection comes little more than a year after the World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Graham Henry tried to coax the 22-year-old back to his country of birth.

But there was no budging the big unit.

"I've been here since I was 10 to 12 years old - and I consider Australia to be my home and I'll be privileged to wear the gold jersey," Skelton said.

"It's a special moment."

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