New Melbourne Rebel Jeral Skelton says he’s “loved” his first week in Rebels colours and can’t wait to get his Super Rugby career started next month.
Skelton was unveiled to his new teammates this week after knocking back offers from several NRL teams following his recent decision to take a break from Australia's Rugby Sevens program.
According to the 21-year-old, it was difficult decision but one that’s already paying dividends.
“I had quite a few offers from the NRL but my goal after sevens was to come to fifteens and play Super Rugby, even though I first started with league.
“So far, it’s been a great few days – the boys have really welcomed me into the program.
“Training wise it’s been a little bit different – getting used to how I play as a forward, having been so used to playing as a back in the sevens.
“But I’m learning every day and everyone’s supportive, so that really helps.”
Since his arrival at the Stockade, Skelton’s new teammates have gone above and beyond welcoming him with open arms, or in Angus Cottrell’s case, with a pair of new boots.
“So, I had to come straight from Brisbane because that’s where my family lives.
“I was travelling from Brisbane to Sydney but then realised as I was coming across, I didn’t have any boots.
“But then Angus helped me out and gave me some new boots with metal studs, which was really nice of him.
“He actually played with my Dad as well, so I think he’s just helping me out where he can.
“It’s been little things like that which have been massive for me getting used to the club."
Among the hottest young talents right now in Australian rugby, Skelton first drew national attention following eye-catching performances for the Australian sevens side back in 2019.
So impressive, Skelton was actually preparing to take part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with the men’s national side before the recent pandemic hit.
Despite the setback, Skelton is excited by his new opportunity.
“The Olympics were the plan – not that I was guaranteed a spot in the team – but that was the goal, which would’ve been great.
“It is what it is obviously with COVID-19 but I was very excited to transfer to fifteens and to take on this new opportunity.”
The name Skelton is one familiar among Australian rugby circles.
The sevens sensation shares bloodlines with former Wallabies lock Will Skelton and former Australian and Melbourne Rebel’s wing, Peter Betham.
While Jeral is yet to meet Will in person, Betham provides valuable support to the youngster, texting him after games, helping fast-track Skelton’s development.
“I’m close with Peter Betham - he’s really helped me a lot, which has been good.
“He usually messages me after games and gives me feedback which is good.
“I’ve been lucky but also the biggest impact on my career has been my family – my brothers and parents too.”
While Tokyo may no longer be on the cards, the 21-year-old is “filled with excitement” for the upcoming Super Rugby AU competition and can’t wait to get the season started with his new club.
“It’s so great having sport back on.
“Going through training has been getting me more and more excited by the day.
“I just can’t wait to get the season started and do the best I can do for this club.
“Just build into the game, get some caps for the Melbourne Rebels and enjoy playing Super Rugby.”