AUSTRALIA coach Robbie Deans confirmed mercurial flyhalf Quade Cooper will not have a place in his final squad for the Test series against the British and Irish Lions, while welcoming troubled back Kurtley Beale into the Wallabies fold.
Deans controversially overlooked Cooper for his initial 25-man squad named last month and yesterday said the 24-year-old playmaker would not be among the final six players added to the group and named early this week.
“We’ve obviously not included him (Cooper) in the additional six at this stage, but as you’ve seen (with injuries), things happen quickly,” New Zealander Deans told reporters in Caloundra on Queensland state’s Sunshine Coast, where the Wallabies squad has assembled for a training camp.
“This is a three-Test campaign and nothing surprises you in this industry. Quade is a huge talent, we understand what he is capable of ... We’ve now settled on the squad and we’ll get on with our opportunity.”
The Wallabies have confirmed that Beale, who checked himself into a private health clinic last month to deal with “personal issues”, would be among the final six names added to the squad.
Beale had “presented himself in the right physical and mental shape,” Deans said of the 24-year-old playmaker, who was stood down by his Super Rugby side Melbourne Rebels for over a month earlier this year after punching two of his team-mates in an alcohol-fuelled incident in South Africa.
The five other players to be added remained under wraps but Deans gave a clue as to his intentions with a number of previously unnamed players turning up in Caloundra.
A trio of players from Canberra-based Super Rugby side ACT Brumbies in 19-Test Wallaby centre Pat McCabe, versatile forward Peter Kimlin and uncapped prop Scott Sio were among the playing group, along with former Australia scrumhalf Luke Burgess and one-Test hooker James Hanson.
Livewire winger Digby Ioane is expected to be named in the final six, but remains in a race to be fit for the first test in Brisbane on 22 June after having knee surgery last month.
“Digby will move more this week – it’s just a matter of monitoring his progress,” said Deans, who added that former Wallabies flanker George Smith could yet play a part late in the series with his knee injury recovering well.
Following the first Test at Lang Park, the Wallabies host the British and Irish Lions in Melbourne, with the third and final match in Sydney.