British & Irish Lions
The Lions are a rugby union test team comprising players from the home nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Lions tours are conducted once every four years and in modern times have focused on Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The 2013 tour included a game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong and the Lions went on to win the series 2-1 over Australia. In 2017, almost 130 years since they played Otago in their first tour match, the British & Irish Lions return to New Zealand.
Deans confirms Cooper out, Beale back for Wallabies
Reuters in Sydney
Australia coach Robbie Deans confirmed mercurial fly-half Quade Cooper would not have a place in his final squad for the test series against the British & 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 to be 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 said.
"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 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 teammates in an alcohol-fuelled incident in South Africa.
The five other players to be added remained under wraps.
The most polarising selection decision is certain to remain that of Cooper, whom a number of former players and pundits backed as an essential inclusion to face the Lions.
Cooper captained the Queensland Reds in their 22-12 loss in a tour match against the Lions on Saturday at Brisbane's Lang Park, and mixed patches of brilliance with a couple of glaring errors in his final chance to impress Deans.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, widely tipped to succeed Deans and no great friend of the New Zealander, praised Cooper for marshalling the Reds' attack against the Lions and said he would pick the pivot "any week" were he the Wallabies coach.
Meanwhile, Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg will start at fly-half for the Lions against the Combined Country side on Tuesday to give Owen Farrell and Jonny Sexton a rest.
Ireland's Simon Zebo will fly in from Houston, Texas, to join the as cover for Tommy Bowe, who underwent surgery on a broken bone in his hand which he suffered against the Reds.