Australia lock Will Skelton is the latest big name to be confirmed as leaving Saracens.

The 28-year-old will join French club La Rochelle, as the Barnet club continues its reshaping ahead of enforced relegation over salary cap breaches.

Powerhouse second row Skelton joins the likes of England stars George Kruis, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Spencer and Jack Singleton in heading to pastures new in light of Saracens’ off-field problems.

The likes of Isiekwe and Singleton are set for season-long loan deals, with playmaker Alex Lozowski heading to Toulouse on a similar short-term switch.

While a clutch of departing stars intend to return then, Skelton will not, admitting it would be a wrench to leave north London.

It’s pretty sad having to leave a great club and great environment

Will Skelton

“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.”

Skelton, centre, is joining La Rochelle (PA)
Skelton, centre, is joining La Rochelle (PA)

Saracens might be facing a stint in the Championship, but they are expected to retain the services of England lock Maro Itoje – along with Billy and Mako Vunipola, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly and Jamie George.

Rugby director Mark McCall paid tribute to Skelton, who initially arrived at Saracens on a short-term deal in December 2016 but ended up staying nearly four years.

“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 team-mate 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.”

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