Hills' Will hunting World Cup glory

Former Hills Sports High School student Will Skelton joins a select group of players to captain the Wallabies at a World Cup. Glenn Cullen reports.

Two rugby players standing side-by-side and a rugby player running the ball. Two rugby players standing side-by-side and a rugby player running the ball.
Image: Will Skelton during his time at Hill Sports High School, and right, in action for the Wallabies.

Will Skelton has rarely taken the simple path.

Australia’s captain at the Rugby World Cup starting in France this weekend, Skelton was more of a rugby league player, until taking up union with gusto as a 15-year-old.

While most of his contemporaries attended private schools, Skelton rose to the top via his time at Hills Sports High School from 2005 to 2010.

“I loved my time at Hills; I made some friends for life. I’ve still got two or three of my best friends I played rugby with from there,” Skelton recalled.

Five years after starting his career with the NSW Waratahs, and already a Wallabies representative, Skelton rolled the dice on further national ambitions by choosing to play in Europe, firstly with Saracens in England, then La Rochelle in France.

Four European Championships later, his spot in the Australian side is unquestioned.

Coach Eddie Jones elevated Skelton to captain of the Wallabies during last month’s World Cup warm-up against France. It marked the first time a NSW public school student had led the side since 2009, when George Smith (Northern Beaches Secondary College - Cromer Campus) was captain.

Hills Sports High School’s Director of Sport Andrew Tetley described Skelton as a lead-by-example type person.

 “I have no doubt he will do a fantastic job (as captain) because Will is the sort of person that people want to follow, that they want to listen to and work for. Teammates naturally gravitate to him and he is incredibly popular with his peers,” Mr Tetley said.

 “He certainly had physical advantages while he was still in high school, however, you can now see with the experience that he has gained playing in Europe that he uses his physicality in a much more impactful way.

 “The bottom line is that we are incredibly proud of Will, the career he has carved out and the way he has carried himself on and off the field.”

Skelton was immensely proud of the opportunities he received at Hills Sports High and said the flexibility of playing both rugby codes gave him a strong footballing background.

“I was exposed to a lot of footy playing for Hills and my club team,” he said.

“I was very lucky to play both sports; and that’s what I recommend to other kids.”

Skelton makes his World Cup captaincy debut when the Wallabies open their World Cup campaign against Georgia on Sunday (AEST).

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