He grew up thinking about playing rugby union or rugby league for New Zealand, but towering Wallabies lock Will Skelton is is happy to be representing his adopted country Australia at this year’s Rugby World Cup.
The strapping second rower, who combines aggression with deft ball skills, moved to Australia when he was 10.
But unlike many New Zealand-born boys, representing the mighty All Blacks wasn’t his primary ambition.
“I grew up playing league, so it was probably a Kiwi league jersey, but I’m very blessed to be in this position and really relishing the opportunity to play for my country,” Skelton said.
Asked if he had also ever thought about pulling on an All Backs jersey Skelton said “I was brought up in New Zealand, so I think that was every kid’s dream.
“But specifically when I moved over here I made a choice to give back to Australia and really take this opportunity with both hands and I’m really happy to be here and fly over to the US.”
Skelton and the rest of the Wallabies squad on Saturday travelled to the United States, where they will play a Test against that nation in Chicago next weekend.
With his massive physique Skelton might be the type of player who could prove attractive to the NFL scouts, who are current being wowed by former NRL star Jarryd Hayne as he attempts to earn a contract with San Francisco.
Skelton said Australians should be proud of Hayne for having accomplished so much in such a short space of time in playing an unfamiliar code.
He laughed off the idea he could play in the NFL and suggested their scouts would be better served by looking at his code-hopping teammate,and fullback Israel Folau, who on Thursday won a second straight John Eales Medal.
Skelton has made eight of his 12 Test appearances as a reserve, but believes he can be more than just an impact player off the bench.
“I trust our coaches in how they want to play the game and if that’s (me) starting fair enough,
I’ll try and pull out the impact from the start of the game,” Skelton said.
“But if it’s on the bench, I’ll try and bring a different intensity when I get on the field.”