WILL SKELTON is set to turn down the chance of going to the World Cup to see out his two-year deal with European Champions Saracens.
The ARU have approached the giant lock to see if he would be available for the World Cup after being impressed by his form.
Skelton, who was a target for the ARU earlier in the season before he opted to extend his deal, has 18 Wallabies caps to his name.
That is well below the 60 needed for selection of overseas-based players and he would have to rip up the second year of his Saracens deal.
Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Nic White is going to Japan later in the year after agreeing to join an Australian Super Rugby side in 2020.
The Melbourne Rebels have been interested, but Skelton is likely to stay with Saracens and see out the rest of his deal.
A source has told Blindside that it would need the ARU to change their qualification rules if they want him in their World Cup squad.
A matter addressed by ARU chief executive Raelene Castle on Monday.
“The Giteau Law is something that an enormous amount of time and effort was put into the thought, despite what people might think,” Castle said.
“There was an enormous amount of thought of the implications, why the number was 60, how the rule’s implemented in a sensible pragmatic way and from our perspective, there’d be no intention to move away from that in relation to Will Skelton.”
The ARU could also target Sale Sharks star James O’Connor, who won 44 Test caps before moving to London Irish six years ago.
We understand that the Sharks have yet to hear from the ARU about the 28-year-old who joined them from Toulon in 2017.
O’Connor signed for Sale on a three- year contract, which is due to run out at the end of next season – but they are keen for him to stay longer.
NEIL FISSLER / Photo: Getty Images
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