Deans includes uncapped trio for tour
November 7, 2011
Ben Tapuai is one of the three uncapped players in the tour © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans has named his 26-man squad for the forthcoming tour of Britain and has included three uncapped players in the party.
Ben Tapuai, Ben Lucas and Dave Dennis have all been included and the Wallabies coach has backed the trio to make an impact while in the Northern Hemisphere. Deans said: "It's a great opportunity for the three of them to take the next step in their careers."
"[Dennis] was probably unlucky in the first instance not to make that World Cup squad, but he gets his opportunity now. Then we've got the two Bens. Ben Tapuai, who earned the right off the back of his Super Rugby experience and played very well on the Gold Coast for the Australian Barbarians against Canada.
"Ben Lucas is obviously a very versatile player. There's an opening at No.9, which is where most of Benny's background is and with Luke Burgess going to play his rugby offshore, his versatility will be handy."
Nine players from the 30-man World Cup party were not considered for the tour: Kurtley Beale (hamstring), Drew Mitchell (hamstring), Pat McCabe (shoulder), Quade Cooper (knee), Wycliff Palu (hamstring), Rocky Elsom (hamstring), Dan Vickerman (shoulder), Sekope Kepu (eye) and Luke Burgess (moved to Toulouse).
With star playmaker Cooper one of the nine unavailable for the tour, Deans has leant his backing to versatile back James O'Connor to fill the void left by the crocked fly-half. Deans said: "It's very likely he [O'Connor] will get the opportunity to step up and accept some of the greater responsibility that comes with directing the game. He is 21 now and starting to grow into his body. As he gets older he will be more able to cope with the rigours of the frontline.
"He has expressed that over time it's an area he'd like to play. Given our circumstance, it's possible you might see him there."
The Wallabies, beaten in the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup by New Zealand, will face the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 26 before tackling Wales in Cardiff a week later. And Deans has no doubt Cooper, who is not expected back until midway through next year's Super Rugby season, can return to the top. He explained: "I spoke to Quade immediately after the surgery. The surgeon was happy with the operation and Quade was positive in terms of what he needed to do.
"The reality is starting to sink in. In the first instance you have a sense of catastrophe as a player, particularly a young player, but he's starting to get his head around it. It is part of the industry and he hasn't had too many setbacks to that end. When he looks around he will see a lot of players that have and a lot of players who have pushed on and done some very good things. That's for him to do."
Forwards: Ben Alexander, Pekahou Cowan, Dave Dennis, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, James Horwill (captain), Salesi Ma'afu, Ben McCalman, Stephen Moore, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota Nau, Radike Samo, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, James Slipper
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Anthony Faingaa, Will Genia, Rob Horne, Digby Ioane, Ben Lucas, James O'Connor, Nick Phipps, Ben Tapuai, Lachie Turner
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