'Home' game: Will Skelton offloads in the Waratahs' loss to the Force. Photo: Getty Images
While the rest of the Waratahs brace themselves for the Eden Park blowtorch, Will Skelton thinks he is preparing for a "home game" at the Blues' fortress.
The towering Waratahs second-rower spent the first 10 years of his life in Auckland and still has relatives in the north island city.
Although a young Skelton preferred league to rugby, he watched his cousin Brad Mika, who played three Tests for the All Blacks, play at Eden Park and went there most weekends to watch him play in the National Provincial Championship.
"I have a lot of family in Auckland, it will feel like a home game for me," Skelton said.
"I haven't played [in New Zealand] since I was young, it should be good to go back home and see my family and play in front of them."
This time he goes back as one of the Waratahs' biggest talents, in every sense of the word.
Skelton, the youngest member of the run-on side, makes his third consecutive start in the second row and has promised to bring his 135-kilogram frame – "140 kilograms on game day" – to bear for the fourth-placed side this week.
"It will be a tough encounter. They're a physical team with a bit of head-wobble out on the wings and in the centres," he said.
"If we just hold on to the ball and stick to our game plan we can try to get the result over there."
Skelton has produced his own fair share of head-wobble this season as he comes of age in the NSW pack.
With No.8 Wycliff Palu's workload being managed, Jacques Potgieter has been a regular starter at No.6, leaving Skelton to his own devices alongside Kane Douglas in the second row.
Skelton said the side had spent a considerable amount of time making a weapon of their set piece work.
"Like most teams we play we try to put pressure on at set piece," he said.
"This week they have an All Black front row and that's going to be a test for us but ... our focus this week has been pressure at set piece so if we work on that the result should come our way."
That means more of what Waratahs fans love – Skelton carrying and offloading while defenders swarm around him like gnats.
"Cheik' backs our ability and he knows that if I have the strength to ball-play then he's not going to hold me back from doing that," he said.
"But I have to go forward before I can try and do those fancy passes ... It would be a waste if I went out there and just tried to be fancy. I've got a big body and I have to use that for my team."