SAINT-ETIENNE: The worst fears of Wallabies fans are being realised after captain Will Skelton was absent from Australia’s team photo in Saint-Etienne on Saturday.
Richie Arnold wore the starter’s jersey at the captain’s run at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, while Matt Philip was among the reserves.
Wallabies coach Eddie Jones had earlier said that Skelton, who hurt his calf in training, would be given up until kickoff to prove his fitness after being named on the team sheet for Monday’s (AEST) crucial Rugby World Cup clash with Fiji.
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And assistant coach Dan Palmer stuck to that script when speaking to reporters after the captain’s run.
“There’s no mind games… we’re giving Will as much time as possible to get ready for the game,” Palmer said.
“So he’s in treatment, he’s working with the physios at the moment, we’ll give it to the last minute to be ready.
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“He’s a chance to play… he’s an important part of our team and we’re prepared to do that…
“I’m not a doctor but I think it was just a minor strain. Hence why he’s still in the mix.”
Palmer said hooker Dave Porecki would captain Australia for the first time if Skelton was ruled out.
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“Dave, if given the opportunity, he’ll be superb,” prop and former captain James Slipper said.
“The way he goes about his business on the field as a player, he leads by example. He’s one of those players who is really measured, composed and world class at his craft.
“He’s got the respect from the boys. Even today leading the captain’s run, he did a superb job. Good captains find a way under pressure to stay composed and to lead and he does that well.”