Israel Folau to attend Wallabies camp
April 12, 2013
Israel Folau has improved with each start for New South Wales
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans denies the omission of high-profile players such as Quade Cooper, Drew Mitchell and Kurtley Beale from the logistics camp means they are out of contention for the squad to face the British & Irish Lions.
Deans said the gathering would allow players to complete the team's pre-Lions commercial obligations, with some specific rugby-related planning also part of the assembly. He said that exclusion from the selection "did not" rule players out of participation in the Lions Test series, saying a "wide net" had been cast through the three logistics camps.
"Kurtley's obviously not playing at the moment, he's sought help which is great and he's going through a counselling process," Deans said of Beale, who is taking an indefinite break from the game to deal with personal issues relating to alcohol. "That's a great first step for Kurtley but he's got to go through that and that'll run its course and if and when he becomes available obviously we'd consider it (selecting him) then.
"He'd return to the Rebels and play so we'd obviously observe with interest and go from there. There's still some boxes he has to tick but if and when he comes back and plays... there's still a lot of rugby to be played and a lot of opportunity for everyone to press their claims."
But Deans delivered a modest assessment of Cooper's form, casting further doubt on the Reds star's involvement in the series.
"I think Quade is working his way back, he's starting to put some good pieces together," Deans said. We've talked routinely and he's very clear, he understands what's required at this level. He's got a good insight into what we're looking for and we can see him working at that stuff as well, so that's good."
Deans said of Folau's inclusion: "Well he's confirmed what we knew really, I mean we've seen Israel play top level sport routinely and he's very comfortable in the arena, he enjoys the big stage. His transition to union has been remarkably smooth."
Pressed on whether Folau - who has played just seven Super Rugby games for the New South Wales Waratahs - is a realistic hope to feature against the Lions in June-July, Deans said: "It's not worth sweating on, he's enjoying his rugby and making good progress and those decisions will be made in time.
"But obviously he's in our thinking, he's on the radar and he's shown he's perfectly capable of playing at that level and hence he's here."
Folau said: "Obviously I'm pretty excited just to be invited to the camp, for me that's a huge honour already.
"I'm certainly feeling a lot more comfortable and confident each week I'm playing the game. It'll be a massive honour for me obviously to represent the Wallabies."
Folau and six Brumbies - Jesse Mogg, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White, Ben Mowen, Fotu Auelua and Scott Sio - are the uncapped players summoned to meet in Sydney on Sunday.
Drew Mitchell, Sekope Kepu, Nick Phipps and the injured Hugh McMeniman are the notable exclusions.
Fifty players attended in January, 30 gathered at the second two-day assembly in February, and Deans said the inclusion of seven uncapped players for Sunday's meeting in Sydney, including Folau, indicated the desire of selectors to have as many players prepared, should they be required.
The first group of 25 players to go into a Wallabies camp ahead of the Lions tour on June 3 will be announced on May 19, with six players to be added when Super Rugby breaks for the June Tests.
The 31-strong Wallabies squad to face the British & Irish Lions will be unveiled at Stockland Stadium on the Sunshine Coast on June 11. The Wallabies will be in camp on the Sunshine Coast before moving to Brisbane for the opening game of the three-Test series at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on June 22.
Israel Folau will join Robbie Deans' camp in Sydney
The players to assemble in Sydney:
Jesse Mogg (Brumbies), Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs), Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds), Joe Tomane (Brumbies), Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), Ben Tapuai (Queensland Reds), Pat McCabe (Brumbies), Christian Leali'ifano (Brumbies), Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs), James O'Connor (Melbourne Rebels), Nic White (Brumbies), Will Genia (Queensland Reds), Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs), Fotu Auelua (Brumbies), Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs), Liam Gill (Queensland Reds), Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs), Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels), Ben Mowen (Brumbies), Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds), James Horwill (Queensland Reds), Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs), Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs), Dan Palmer (Brumbies), James Slipper (Queensland Reds), Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs), Scott Sio (Brumbies), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs).
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