Injuries force Wallabies to change squad for Lions

Australia’s Wallabies have been force to make changes to their squad for the British and Irish Lions due to injuries from Super Rugby.

Winger Digby Ioane, lock Sitaleki Timani and backrower Scott Higginbotham were all removed from the squad which assembled in Sydney on Sunday ahead of the first test in Brisbane on June 22..

Melbourne Rebels scrumhalf Nick Phipps, Waratahs lock Kane Douglas and Western Force loose forward Ben McCalman were named to take their places.

Timani left the field with a suspected broken thumb during the New South Wales Waratahs’ loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday, opening a place for Douglas who played his first test against Argentina on the Gold Coast last year.

Melbourne captain Higginbotham dislocated a shoulder during the Rebels’ match against the Queensland Reds on Saturday. His absence allows McCalman to re-join the Wallabies sqaud after a 12-month absence, having missed all of last year’s test season due to injury.

The 25-year-old McCalman recently made his 50th Super Rugby appearance for the Western Force but will likely miss the Lions’ Australian tour-opener against the Force in Perth on Wednesday.

Ioane last week underwent an operation to mend an articular cartilage complaint in his left knee.

“Digby is unable to train. His focus is on getting his knee right, which is why we’ve chosen to bring him in anyway, so we our medical staff can oversee the process,” coach Robbie Deans said.

“His absence from training opened up the opportunity to add another player. Nick (Phipps) has been playing well, has background with us through his experience last year and is a player who was always in our thoughts.”

Deans said Nic White could yet be added to the squad as a third scrumhalf option after Phipps and Will Genia.

Phipps described the call up as a “pleasant surprise”, admitting he felt he had “left my run too late” after starring in the Rebels’ upset win over the Stormers of South Africa two days before the preliminary Wallabies squad was named.

“I’d been going okay, but felt my performance in that game, after I got on, was a step up from where I’d been,” Phipps said. “Possibly I’d been trying a bit too hard.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Wallabies, especially last year when I got a few starts, and was pretty keen to get back there.”

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