Australia have named a 49-man training squad for a pre-season training camp as they begin to focus on the summer Lions tour.
Robbie Deans has chosen a squad that is dominated by players from the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs, who contribute a combined 29 players to the squad.
The big news seems to be the absence of Rugby league convert Israel Folau, who was seen having coffee with Deans last week. However having never played a game of Union in his life it is perhaps not all that surprising.
More surprising is the absence of Radike Samo, who played against the Lions in 2001 and may have been able to use his experience to help the squad prepare for the unique intensity of a Lions year.
The Australian coaching team were keen to point out though that this is just a training squad, and that selection will be based on Super Rugby form, leaving plenty of time for players to work their way into the squad:
“It doesn’t guarantee them anything, if you’re not here it doesn’t mean you’re not a Wallaby this year – it comes down to what you do on the field.â€ said a Wallaby spokesperson.
“There’s nothing to stop Israel Folau going out there and playing the house down to make the team.”
There is no news as yet as to whether the squad will be allowed to play in the provincial games of the tour, though recent Lions history would suggest that it is unlikely.
Australia pre-season squad
Queensland Reds (16): Saia Faingaa, James Hanson, James Slipper, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Will Genia, Ben Lucas, Quade Cooper, Ben Tapaui, Anthony Faingaa, Mike Harris, Dom Shipperley, Digby Ioane, Luke Morahan
NSW Waratahs (13):Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu, Berrick Barnes, Rob Horne, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell
Brumbies (8): Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dan Palmer, David Pocock, Nic White, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe, Joe Tomane
Melbourne Rebels (8):Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor, Mitch Inman, Cooper Vuna
Western Force (4):Salesi Ma’afu, Hugh McMeniman, Ben McCalman, Nick Cummins