19 May 2013

Folau in, Cooper out of Wallabies squad

5:09 pm on 19 May 2013

Israel Folau is in but Quade Cooper is the most notable omission from coach Robbie Deans' initial 25-man Australian rugby squad to take on the touring British and Irish Lions in June and July.

Berrick Barnes, James O'Connor and Christian Lealiifano are the preferred five-eighth options for the three-Test series, although Deans will add a further six players on June 11 to complete the squad.

Despite his strong halves partnership with Queensland teammate Will Genia and impressive form for the Reds in more recent rounds of Super Rugby, Cooper continues to pay the price for his criticism of the Wallabies' culture last year.

The mercurial playmaker could yet force his way into the squad as it remains unclear what plans Deans has for incumbent five eighth Kurtley Beale, who is currently undergoing rehab treatment to overcome issues with alcohol.

The rugby league convert Folau, Lealiifano, and the Brumbies captain Ben Mowen are the three uncapped players in the squad.

With veteran George Smith ruled out with a knee injury, Deans and his fellow selectors opted for young guns Michael Hooper and Liam Gill as his openside flankers.

Reds hooker Saia Faingaa gained inclusion as Stephen Moore's back-up hooker after NSW's incumbent rake Tatafu Polota-Nau suffered a suspected broken arm in Saturday night's 28-22 win over the Brumbies.

The captain will be named when Deans finalises his squad on June 11.

Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Nick Cummins, Dave Dennis, Saia Faingaa, Israel Folau, Will Genia, Liam Gill, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Sekope Kepu, Christian Lealiifano, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, Jame O'Connor, Wycliff Palu, Benn Robinson, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Sitaleki Timani, Joe Tomane.