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Cooper must prove Lions case: Deans

QUADE COOPER must prove himself when the Queensland Reds face the British and Irish Lions on June 8 if he is to have any chance of lining up for Australia against the tourists.

Cooper was yesterday omitted from the preliminary 25-man squad named by Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans, with James O'Connor, Berrick Barnes and Christian Lealiifano the preferred fly-halves.

However, with six more players to be added on June 11, Cooper will be presented with a last-ditch opportunity to outline a compelling case for his selection against the Lions.

Concerns continue to exist over the 25-year-old's defensive frailties, but his recent form for the Reds has been strong, with Wallaby great Michael Lynagh among those stating he must start in the Test series.

Instead, Cooper seems to be still paying the price for last year's description of the Australia squad as a "toxic environment". He was also critical of Deans.

"People will say that's the end for Quade, but that's not the case," Deans said.

"We all know Quade's history in the group. I've selected him on 38 occasions, so he's had a lot of faith and support from me.

"He will get the opportunity to play the Lions. He understands what's important at Test level and that will be a great opportunity for him to press his claims."