With Cooper left out, Rebels current no.10 James O’Connor will take the reins at pivot against either Jonathan Sexton or Owen Farrell. However there is still light at the end of the tunnel for the likes of Cooper as Deans confirmed that an additional 6 players will be added in the build-up to the historic tour.
“People will say that’s the end for Quade, that’s not the case, there are still six positions to be resolved, We all know Quade’s history in the group and I’ve selected him on 38 occasions so he’s had a lot of faith and support from me, that’s not an issue and to suggest otherwise is nonsense. He will get the opportunity to play against the Lions and he understands what’s important at Test level and it’s a great opportunity for him to press his claims.” Deans told a press conference to unveil the squad.
Waratahs AFL convert Isreal Folau made Deans’ list yesterday after an impressive debut season in Super Rugby. He has been chosen at fullback but has the skill to be thrown into the mix just about anywhere in the backline.
“He’s played predominantly at fullback at Super Rugby level, that’s been his experience in the game, But we are familiar that he’s played international rugby league on the end of the backline and there’s a lot of consistent components to that. He does have that capability.” Deans said.
Unluckily for Deans, veteran flank George Smith, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and centre Pat McCabe were all ruled out of the series due to injuries picked up over the weekend. Smith in particular will be a huge loss the Wallabies ability to win ball opposition ball.
“George is unavailable for the Lions series. He picked up a medial ligament injury last night and initial indications are that will rule him out for the series,” Deans said.
“Tatafu does have a (arm) fracture that does require surgery so he has also been denied the opportunity to play in the series, Pat McCabe has what we understand is a posterior cruciate ligament tear, a possible rupture, but it is not out of the realms of possibility that Pat could be still involved in the series.” he added.
A major surprise in the announcement is that Deans has only picked one scrumhalf, Will Genia. However he stated that he would be looking to add at least one more over the coming weeks.
“We’ve only nominated Will Genia at halfback and whether we settle on two or three (scrumhalves) there are a lot of permutations around injuries and form, but clearly we will have more than one in the squad ultimately,” Deans said.
There are two other uncapped players in the Squad (besides Folau), they come in the form of Brumbies duo Ben Mowen and Christian Lealiifano. Deans hinted that James Horwill may captain the team but this will be confirmed then the final squad is named on June 11th.
“Every player has things to prove,” Deans said. “While this is clearly going to be the core of the squad in that they will get the first invitation to get together prior to the final six players they’ll clearly make up the nucleus. But nothing is set in stone and there is still rugby to be played and players can still press their claims.” Concluded Deans.
The first test between the Wallabies and the Lions is on the 22nd of Junein Brisbane.
Wallabies squad: Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Nick Cummins, Dave Dennis, Saia Faingaa, Israel Folau, Will Genia, Liam Gill, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Sekope Kepu, Christian Lealiifano, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, James O’Connor, Wycliff Palu, Benn Robinson, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Sitaleki Timani, Joe Tomane.