Skelton also might have got lucky that he didn’t get penalised for an earlier hit on Tom Curry.
Still, his absence still didn’t stop the Baa-baas racking up eight tries in total.
Jones, while playing down the significance of the loss, was still forced to concede: “We were beaten pretty badly at the breakdown, so it’s a good reminder of how much work we have to do before Australia.
“No one is happy about the result but, again, we look at it in the light of what we’re trying to do.
“There’s a contextual situation here. I know you’re struggling to understand it, but we’re trying to build a new team, play a different way, a style that suits that players and there are going to be some ups and downs.”
Meanwhile, Skelton is set to feature in the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship squad after admitting he was “hurt” by being overlooked for Test honours against England.
Skelton’s Baa Baas call-up capped another standout season in European rugby. The 30-year-old giant starred for Heineken Cup champions La Rochelle this season, adding to the silverware he collected from spells with Saracens (2019) and the Waratahs (2014).
His impact off the bench for his club had France and Barbarians coach Fabian Galthie scratching his head over how Australia had declined the chance to recall the second-rower for the England series.
But the Herald has learned that Skelton and once-regular second row pick, Rory Arnold, are in the frame for the next series, The Rugby Championship, which starts with back-to-back Tests away against Argentina. Force lock Izack Rodda, who partnered regularly with Arnold under former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, is out for three months with a foot injury. The absence will rule him out of the Argentina and, potentially, South Africa legs of the tournament.
Under the revised Giteau Law protocols, Rennie can only have three overseas-based players per series, meaning he would have to swap out one or more of the current three – Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete – to make room for Skelton or Arnold.
With Kerevi eyeing a Commonwealth Games campaign with the Australian men’s sevens side, Rennie could face some tough choices between his workhorse winger, Koroibete, and Cooper, who is his likely starting No.10.
Coach Dave Rennie hinted to the Herald recently that the long European season contributed to his decision to look to Japan for reinforcements against England, but reiterated that Skelton could come into play beyond that.
“That’s the challenge around guys coming out of France. They go deep into a season. It’s been a hell of a long year,” Rennie said. “We brought them [Skelton and Rory Arnold] in last year, and he fitted in well. I’m not looking to bring him back for the England series but maybe beyond that.”
The Japanese season ran almost parallel to Super Rugby Pacific, allowing Cooper, Kerevi and Koroibete to arrive fresh and rested in Australia after their seasons wrapped up at the end of May.
Skelton and Arnold’s clubs are still playing in the French domestic league, and Rennie may have wanted to give them time to recuperate before enlisting them for The Rugby Championship.
The message may have been scrambled in transit, because Skelton told a recent podcast he was “hurt” by the snub.
“I obviously played in November and I haven’t had much contact after that. I think I spoke to Rens a week after we broke up and I haven’t had much contact,” he said.
“In my head I had an inkling that they’d pick those Japanese boys – the season’s aligned with Super Rugby and the Japanese league and with us having such a long season I know from the chats that we had in November they were almost not going to pick us.
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