Melbourne Rebels’ flanker, Jeral Skelton, has plenty to celebrate after being selected to make his second Super Rugby AU appearance in tonight’s crucial Round 8 clash against finals contenders, the Western Force.
Skelton’s selection caps a whirlwind six days for the emerging star, who just days after making his Super Rugby AU debut, celebrated his 22nd birthday.
Skelton spent his special day with his Rebels’ teammates, as his immediate family remained back in his home state of Queensland and couldn’t attend his opening match.
“I had a few family members come down and watch, while the rest just watched on TV, so it was a good experience,” Skelton said.
“I didn’t get up to a lot for my birthday – obviously I wish my family was here, that’s the main thing but they’re back in Brisbane, so I just went out to dinner with a few of the boys, which was great.”
Skelton, a towering 190cm back-rower, came to the Rebels from the Australian Rugby Sevens’ program, and with more than twice as many players on the field and extended playing times, it was a move which brought about numerous challenges.
“The biggest difference was the change from seven-minute halves to forty-minutes, but I was mentally prepared and felt good.”
“The mental preparation before the game and getting my body right was still similar to sevens.
“It was a good experience playing Super Rugby for the first time, just training all the time made me want to get out there."
Facing a well-rested Western Force side chasing a maiden finals appearance, Skelton says he expects a “tough contest” in what is crucial game both for himself and his Rebels’ teammates.
“The main focus for this week is sticking to our strengths, it’s a good opportunity to respond from our disappointing performance last week,” Skelton said.
“It’s important we start well, we matched the Reds for moments last week, but the slow start really cost us.”
The Melbourne Rebels face the Western Force tonight at AAMI Park at 7:45 pm. The clash can be seen ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sports.