Australian captain Will Skelton, injured in a calf, is doubtful for the Wallabies' second meeting, against Fiji on Sunday in Saint-Étienne, during the 2023 World Cup, coach Eddie Jones said on Friday, revealing the composition of his squad. team.
“He's going to test himself until Sunday and we're going to wait until the last moment to decide whether or not Will (Skelton) starts the game on Sunday,” Jones said Friday at a press conference, now, for the moment, his captain in his starting XV.
The second row from La Rochelle, 31 years old (2.03m, 145kg), had to cut short his training on Thursday after feeling discomfort in his calf and must undergo medical examinations on Friday. If he were to give up his place on Sunday, hooker David Porecki could be captain of the Wallabies against Fiji.
Substitute against Georgia, the scrum half, Nic White, passed by Montpellier, is started to compensate for the withdrawal of Tate McDermott, victim of a concussion. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, N.9 of Fijian origin, takes his place on the bench with the “finishers”.
Finally, the experienced pillar James Slipper, 131 caps, replaces Taniela Tupou, injured in the hamstring and withdrawn, to the right of the Australian scrum. Slipper will become the second most capped Wallaby in the World Cup on Sunday, tied with Adam Ashley-Copper (19 matches), just ahead of George Gregan (20 matches).
Slipper, left pillar by training, will “help out” on the right for the third time in his career, Angus Bell taking his place on the left. “Agreeing to play where he is asked, he who is playing his 4th World Cup, it shows how much he loves this game, how much he loves the Wallabies” praised Jones about his pillar.
The Australian coach, who maintains very tense relations with the press, often contented himself with pithy answers to the questions asked of him on Friday.
In a press release, published earlier in the day, he said that the match against Fiji was “the most important of [our] World Cup journey. Another great opportunity for our young team to continue to improve.”
Asked to explain why he felt this match was the most important, Jones simply blurted out “because it’s the next one.”
A victory against the Fijians, beaten in their first match against Wales (32-26), would virtually ensure the Wallabies qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition.
Line-up of the Australian XV against Fiji:
Donaldson - Nawaqanitawase, Petaia, Kerevi, Koroibete - Gordon (o), White (m) - McReight, Valetini, T. Hooper - Skelton (cap.), Frost - Slipper, Porecki, Bell
Replacements: Wales, Schoupp, Nonggorr, Arnold, Leota, Fines-Leleiwasa, Foketi, Vunivalu