Saracen have confirmed the departure of Wallaby lock Will Skelton who will depart the club at the end of the month after four years at Saracens.
A popular character at Saracens, the giant lock heads to TOP14 club La Rochelle who are coached by former Ireland flyhalf Ronan O'Gara.
Skelton initially moved to north London on a short-term deal from the Waratahs in December 2016 and impressed in helping the club to retain the Champions Cup. After competing in the 2017 Super Rugby competition, the 6ft 8in lock agreed to join Sarries on a permanent basis ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.
A lot of hard work and dedication followed as the lock made great strides in his game to play a big role in securing a fourth Premiership title for Mark McCall’s side. A similarly transformative summer in 2018 led to more success for Skelton on the pitch with a domestic and European double crowning a fantastic season – the Australian was also named Saracens Players’ Player of the Year.
Skelton made the last of his 77 appearances for the Men in Black in the 24-13 victory at Allianz Park over Leicester Tigers and insists he will never forget his experiences as a Saracen.
“It’s pretty sad having to leave a great club and great environment,” said Skelton. “But I’m excited for the journey ahead.
“It’s been a special time here. From the first day you see how welcoming the boys are, you see first hand the culture that everyone’s talking about.
“I’m extremely grateful to the coaches and players for embracing myself and my wife and welcoming us to such a family.
“I came here wanting to improve and wanting to make an impact on the team and I think I’ve done that.
“I just want to thank all the coaches, the players and the support staff for investing in me and making my time here very special and a memory I’ll never forget.”
Director of Rugby Mark McCall added: “Will has contributed enormously to our club over the last number of years.
“On the field, under the guidance of our brilliant performance team, he showed great dedication to transform himself physically to allow his incredible talent to be hugely impactful.
“Off the field, he was a very thoughtful, supportive teammate who had the respect of everyone at the club.
“Will and Kate will be greatly missed and we wish them well as they start a new journey in France.”
Meanwhile, La Rochelle have also confirmed the signings of Brice Dulin, Dillyn Leyds, Raymond Rhule and Jules Le Bail.