Injuries force more changes to Wallabies squad ahead of Lions tests
Deans is forced to make three more changes on squad as tough Super competition takes its toll
Australia coach Robbie Deans was forced to make three changes to his 25-man training squad yesterday after more injury problems ahead of the British and Irish Lions test series.
Melbourne Rebels halfback Nick Phipps, NSW Waratahs lock Kane Douglas and Western Force loose forward Ben McCalman were called up after second-rower Sitaleki Timani and in-form back-rower Scott Higginbotham were both injured.
Melbourne Rebel Higginbotham left the field with a sore shoulder during his side's Super Rugby loss to the Queensland Reds on Saturday and Timani picked up a broken thumb as the New South Wales Waratahs lost to the Canterbury Crusaders on Friday. Both will go for scans to determine whether or not they will feature in the three tests against the Lions in June and July.
Reds winger Digby Ioane is continuing rehabilitation for a cartilage issue in his left knee, but was expected to join the squad in Sydney yesterday.
"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 our medical staff can oversee the process," Deans said.
McCalman was expected to line up for the Force against the Lions in Perth on Wednesday, but his first Wallabies call up in a year means he will sit out the midweek game.
Phipps is the second scrumhalf named in the squad and gets the nod ahead of Nic White of the ACT Brumbies as the deputy for first choice Will Genia.
"I guess, like every other player in the country, I'm desperate to have a crack at the Lions," Phipps said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that a lot of players don't get."
Deans named a preliminary squad last month and will add six more on June 11 ahead of the first test in Brisbane on June 22, but the rigours of the physical Super Rugby contest have taken its toll.
First-choice openside flanker David Pocock will miss the series with likely replacement George Smith struggling with a knee problem picked up last month. Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was left out of the squad because of a broken arm.