Will Skelton vows to be his own man as Wallabies captain

Will Skelton is set to lead the Wallabies at the World Cup, despite turning down the offer at first.

Will Skelton is set to lead the Wallabies at the World Cup, despite turning down the offer at first. Photo: AAP

Reluctant leader Will Skelton is promising to stamp his own unique style of captaincy on the Wallabies after conceding he had to be asked three times before accepting the job.

He may tower over teammates at 2.02 metres tall and hit the scales at 145 kilograms, but the gentle giant readily admits he’s still growing into the role six days in.

Coach Eddie Jones shocked everyone, including Skelton when he announced the 31-year-old was taking over from co-captains James Slipper and the injured Michael Hooper after halfback Tate McDermott deputised in the Wallabies’ last-up outing against the All Blacks.

So Skelton says he won’t be trying to copy any previous Wallabies captains, including the inspirational Hooper, when he leads Australia into battle at the World Cup in France in September and October.

“I’m just trying to be me,” he said at the Wallabies’ “Au Revoir” with fans in Sydney before leaving for the showpiece tournament on Thursday.

“I think that was one of the problems when Eddie first called me. The only thing I could lean back on was my experience and the leaders that I had.

“I knew those guys weren’t my style of leadership. I’m not a guy who will stand in front of a team off the cuff and inspire the whole team.

“Speaking off the cuff is not my forte so I’ll just try and grow into this role and embrace it.

“I always just try and be myself. When I got this role, I never wanted to change and I believe in this first week I haven’t done that. I’ve tried to be who I am and stick to that.”

Jones said he opted for Skelton for his ability to bring people together and the lock is already using that trait to connect the Wallabies.

“I love those small conversations, I love having banter with the boys, having a joke,” Skelton said.

“A thing I’ve always done is ask how your family is, how you’re doing at home. Just the normal things.

“I’ve been trying to do that around this group and just getting to know my players because I know if you’re better connected off the field, you’ll always perform better on the field.

“That’s just who I am.”

Fellow lock Richie Arnold on Wednesday confirmed Skelton wasn’t keen to take on the role, but said the 28-Test star was already proving to be a fine captain.

“He didn’t initially want the job,” Arnold told AAP.

“He’s softly spoken and doesn’t speak a lot and he was surprised when Eddie told him.

“But he’s taken it and I think he’s loving it, to be fair.

“I don’t think he knocked it back but it initially wasn’t what he wanted to do.

“But obviously when you’re handed that you take it by the horns and he’s done that.”

Whether it be deciding to go for penalty points or touch and admitting he’s a greenhorn skipper, Skelton will rely heavily on the Wallabies’ leadership group including new vice-captain Tate McDermott both on the field and off.

“I haven’t done this before so I’ll be leaning on them a lot,” he said.

“We’re pretty open and transparent in this group. I’m not going to have all the answers as well.

“So we’ll be leaning on each other and growing together and those decisions will be a team thing. Whatever’s best for the team.”


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