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Nine Wallabies caps in strong Reds team selected to play Lions

Queensland select best players, with Cooper heading a strong back line

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 February, 2014, 3:24pm

Queensland have named nine capped Wallabies in a strong starting line-up for their tour match against the British and Irish Lions in Brisbane tomorrow.

Following stinging criticism from former England coach Clive Woodward of an under-strength Western Force team for Wednesday's Australian tour opener, the Reds selected their best available players.

The Reds, 2011 Super Rugby champions, are without seven current Wallaby squad members in camp, but will field a strong backline headed by playmaker Quade Cooper, bidding to make the final Australia squad for the three tests against the Lions.

Cooper was left out of the preliminary squad, but coach Robbie Deans will be checking the fly-half's form tomorrow before announcing six additions to his final line-up on June 11.

Queensland's squad boasts a total of 127 Australian caps, while each member of the starting team has commenced a Super Rugby match for the Reds this season.

Apart from Cooper, four other players have featured in all 16 regular season Super Rugby matches to date, including hooker James Hanson, prop Greg Holmes and backrowers Eddie Quirk and Jake Schatz.

"Playing against the British and Irish Lions is a once-in-a-career-type opportunity, so to be running out in front of a sold-out Suncorp Stadium crowd on Saturday night will be an experience these 23 players will never forget," Reds coaching director Ewen McKenzie said.

"Our approach was always going to be to field as strong a line-up as possible and I've got every confidence in the group we've chosen to go out and compete against a very talented Lions squad."

The Reds are bidding to become the first Australian provincial team to beat the Lions in a tour-game since Queensland defeated their rivals 15-11 in 1971.

"We've spoken as a group about the significance of these opportunities and there isn't a player out there who wouldn't want to replicate the heroics of the 1971 Queensland side," McKenzie said.

"History suggests that's a mammoth challenge, but we'll go out there on Saturday with plenty of good intentions and with a commitment to giving a strong account of ourselves across the entire 80 minutes."

The Lions kicked off their tour with a 67-17 thrashing of Western Force in Perth on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a hearing into biting allegations against Lions prop Cian Healy has been postponed until today, the Australian Rugby Union said.

Irishman Healy was cited after Western Force scrumhalf Brett Sheehan made an on-field complaint to the referee during the first half.

Sheehan claimed he was bitten on the arm, but said later he was unsure whether it was accidental or deliberate.

Video footage shown during the match of the incident was inconclusive.

Healy was initially due to appear before a judicial hearing yesterday in Brisbane after the team flew in from Perth for their game against the Reds.

The Leinster prop's tour is also in doubt after he suffered suspected ankle ligament damage in the match against the Force.

Lions coach Warren Gatland has called up England prop Alex Corbisiero as cover.

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