Super-size Will Skelton adds to Australia’s weaponry
The emergence of giant lock Will Skelton as a potent attacking weapon has boosted optimism that Australia can secure their first Bledisloe Cup against world champions New Zealand in more than a decade.
Australia secured their longest winning streak in 15 years with the series sweep of France in Sydney on Saturday and Skelton, making his Wallabies debut, scored a try inside of 10 minutes, charging through France's midfield to score.
The 39-13 victory gave Australia their seventh consecutive win, boosting their confidence that they can overcome the All Blacks in little over a month.
Weighing in at nearly 140kg, Skelton's physical presence was a constant threat to France's defence, but Skelton demonstrated his skill set, laying on a deft assist to slot Israel Folau under the posts in the second half.
The performance also earned the admiration of Australia coach Ewen McKenzie.
"We saw him carry the ball and that try assist to Israel was pretty special," said McKenzie. "He has a pretty unique approach to the game and that is something that we utilised."
The Wallabies will now head back to their Super Rugby clubs to finish the season before bracing for another tilt at winning back the Bledisloe Cup - the annual trophy contested with New Zealand.
Eleven years in New Zealand hands, recapturing the Bledisloe has become a Holy Grail-like mission for the Wallabies.
Australia lost all three tests to the world champion All Blacks last year, their opponents literally unbeatable as they completed a perfect season.
Australia finished the 2013 Rugby Championship in third place, behind winners New Zealand and South Africa in McKenzie's first series as coach, but have since recorded away victories over Ireland and Wales.