Wallabies finalise squad for British & Irish Lions

Australia’s Wallabies have finalised their 31 strong squad to play the British and Irish Lions with troubled back Kurtley Beale joining the squad that will be captained by James Horwill.

Horwill, the Queensland Reds lock who was Australia’s 2011 Tri-Nations-winning skipper, returns to the captaincy after a hamstring injury last year ruled him out of the entire Test season.

Beale, who has been undergoing rehabilitation for alcohol problems, was among the final six additions who completed the Wallabies’ 31-strong squad along with Hugh McMeniman, Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe, Peter Kimlin and Scott Sio.

Beale’s versatility at fullback and flyhalf won his place ahead of Quade Cooper, who was omitted from coach Robbie Deans’ initial, 25-man squad and failed to win his place back in the Reds’ 22-12 loss to the Lions on Saturday.

Four uncapped players were named in the squad to take on the Lions, a combined British and Irish side which tours once every four years, in three Tests in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney on June 22, June 29 and July 6.

Deans said he had no concerns about Beale’s physical state or mental well-being ahead of the high-pressure series, despite his limited on-field preparation as he has attended to his off-field problems.

While counselling for alcohol-related issues is continuing, Deans said he did not believe it would be a distraction for either Beale or the team.

Deans has been closely involved with the player through the counselling process and said he does not believe it is too soon for Beale to return to the national team set-up.

“We know what Kurtley is capable of in this arena. He showed that as recently as last year’s European tour when he performed outstandingly and led the team from flyhalf in adverse circumstances against many of the opposition players we now face again,” Deans said.

“His work last week during the first camp supported our contention that it was not too soon for him to get started again, from either a physical or a mental standpoint.

“His physical state is a testament, both to how hard he has worked, but also his desire to get started again.”

Beale’s selection followed Deans’s decision on Sunday not to call up mercurial playmaker Cooper among his final six squad choices.

Melbourne Rebels scrum-half Luke Burgess, who recently returned home from French club rugby, and Queensland Reds hooker James Hanson will remain with the squad as training cover ahead of the first Test.

McCabe and McMeniman proved their fitness for selection during last weekend’s Australian-only Super 15 round, while Beale and Ioane were all involved in some capacity during last week’s preliminary squad training camp in Sydney.

Kimlin, who has been a mainstay for the   Brumbies this season, gained his call-up four years after playing the only two Tests of his career against Italy in 2009.

Uncapped Brumbies prop Scott Sio, in his first full Super Rugby season with the Australian conference winners, was the surprise inclusion among the six final picks. The powerful 21-year-old is the son of former Samoan prop Tevita Sio.

Deans, who watched the Brumbies play the Melbourne Rebels as well as the Reds versus the Lions last week, said the final squad selection had been further complicated by injuries to Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White and prop Dan Palmer.

Ioane’s attendance at last week’s training camp allowed medical staff to assess the progress on the rehabilitation of his right knee following surgery, clearing the way for his involvement.

Deans said the selection of McMeniman boosted the forward pack after the loss of the injured hard men Sitaleki Timani and Scott Higginbotham.

Wallabies squad


Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale, Nick Cummins, Israel Folau, Will Genia, Rob Horne, Digby Ioane, Christian Leali’ifano, Pat McCabe, James

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