Australia name provisional squad for the Lions tour

The squad features three uncapped players, including controversial AFL convert Israel Folau who is in just his first season of rugby union.

The other debutants are Brumbies captain Ben Mowen and centre Christian Lealiifano, but there is no place for Reds fly-half Quade Cooper. Cooper, who has 38 caps, still has two Super 15 games and the Reds fixture against the Lions on 8 June to impress selectors before the final 31 are chosen.

He had been Australia’s first choice fly-half until injury struck at the 2011 World Cup. He then fell out with Deans for criticising the “toxic” environment in the Wallabies camp. “People will say that’s the end for Quade but that’s not the case,” said coach Robbie Deans. “Test rugby is another level from Super Rugby; we would like to see Quade defend in the front line and we would like him to assert himself more physically.”

Deans confirmed that James O’Connor, who has started just one Test at fly-half, would be his first choice option there.

There is also no room for George Smith, the man who played so well against the Lions in 2001. His absence leaves the door open for young Reds flanker Liam Gill to make his mark.

Preliminary Australia 25-man squad: Ben Alexander, Berrick Barnes, Nick Cummins, Dave Dennis, Saia Fainga’a, 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.

What do you make of the squad? Is it good enough to beat the Lions? Are there any players you are relieved not to see there, or any you are particularly wary of?

12 thoughts on “Australia name provisional squad for the Lions tour

  1. I really think Deans is making a huge mistake by omitting Cooper. He is in excellent form and one of Australia’s most dangerous players. Good news for the Lions I guess though. I would still rather see him playing mind you.

    Also, isn’t Smith’s omission due to injury?

  2. Good squad i think but RD is expected to pick 6 more players on the 11th of June , so i think QC might still be in the mix . Hope George Smith is too due to his vast experience and big matches temperament . Can’t wait for the series to start , it’s going to be a hell of a test series for both sides .

  3. I wonder if Deans is concerned about the size of the Lions backs. Given the probable centers and Wingers in the Tests, it would be very difficult to hide Cooper in defence.

    1. A good point, especially given what Deans said about defense.
      With Cooper on the field, he will inevitably be targeted by the likes of Tuilagi, Roberts, Croft and Faletau. Realistically any strong ball carrier would be unwise to ignore his weaknesses in contact, Healy and Vunipola could even have a run at him.

  4. Just realised that there is no Jesse Mogg or AAC either. I know that he is adding six more players; but unless their are injuries or a major change in form, the starting XV will be made up from these players.

    I’m guessing:
    Robinson, Moore, Alexander, Horwill (c), Simmons, Dennis, Hooper, Higgingbotham, Genia, O’Connor, Ioane, Lealiifano, Horne, Cummins, Folau/ Barnes.

    1. I can assure you AAC is in the squad. He’s the form 13 in Aus and will be third picked behind Genia and Horwill.

      There are only 24 names up there!

      1. Ah that makes sense. I did think it would be more of a headline that AAC was missing, but he isn’t on the list above.

        AAC into my team for Horne then.

  5. George Smith injured his knee on Saturday, hence is unavailable.

    Deans is absolutely correct to omit Cooper at this stage. Firstly, the Reds are not scoring tries this season. The reason appears to be Quade Cooper’s reluctance in contact. Defenders know that he’ll pop an inside pass or a long flat pass, but is unwilling to make the tough hit up. When he does, he gets turned over. As a consequence, defenders have the luxury of spreading wide. He is also suspect in defence.

    Secondly, by not picking him now, Cooper gets a chance to show himself against the Lions, when they play the Reds. Deans can then select him as part of the ‘final six’ to join the squad at a later date.

  6. Starting 10 appears to be James O’Connor. With his footwork and pace, he’ll be a tricky customer. His ability to break a line and link with Barnes/Lealilifano/Folau is pretty mouthwatering.

    We’re a bit worried about his game management though, so there will be quite a bit of reliance on Genia and probably Barnes at Fullback.

    1. Seems to have all the attributes of a great 10, but has he played enough @ 10 to be ready for the biggest test series in world rugby?

  7. They left out Mogg I think because, whilst he is playing pretty well, he is young and hasn’t experienced the top level of any sport yet. Folau (another league convert) however has played from a very young age in league internationals. And he’s a beast.

    Great squad, and some good players in the wings (Tapuai, Pyle, F’Sautia) should there be injuries. Cooper will return, and I think Beale might also. White will also come in.


    With Lealiifano, White and Cummins on the bench

    1. I would be very surprised to see Cooper in there, especially starting, after the comments from Deans. He quite literally said that O’Connor would start at 10.

      I personally think that not playing Cooper is a mistake. Deans comments about picking him 38 times are absurd. Cooper is just as good player as he was all of those 38 times. He is also just as likely to miss tackles and get turned over as he was during those 38 selections.

      Lets get one thing straight, Cooper isn’t getting selected because of the way he is playing, it is because of his comments about Deans and the environment.

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