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Deans' injury woes grow ahead of the tests

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Australian Wallabies' coach Robbie Deans. Picture: REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Australian Wallabies' coach Robbie Deans. Picture: REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Australian Wallabies' coach Robbie Deans. Picture: REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Australia coach Robbie Deans was forced to make three changes to his 25-man training squad yesterday after more injury problems ahead of the British and Irish Lions test series.

Halfback Nick Phipps, lock Kane Douglas and forward Ben McCalman were called up after second row Sitaleki Timani and in-form back row Scott Higginbotham were both injured.

Lock Sitaleki Timani has been ruled out of the series after he broke his right thumb during a Super Rugby game last Friday, and he has been told that surgery will be required.

The Australian Rugby Union also confirmed that back-row forward Scott Higginbotham has undergone scans after dislocating his shoulder two days ago. He will be reassessed later this week,

Reds winger Digby Ioane is still continuing rehabilitation for a cartilage issue in his left knee but will join up with the squad who begin work in Sydney on Sunday.

"Digby is unable to train. His focus is on getting his knee right, which is why we've chosen to bring him in anyway, so our medical staff can oversee the process," Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said in a statement.

McCalman was expected to line up for the Force against the Lions in Perth on Wednesday but his first Wallabies call-up in a year means he will sit out the midweek game.

Phipps is the second scrumhalf named in the squad and gets the nod ahead of Nic White of the ACT Brumbies as the deputy for first choice Will Genia.

DESPERATE

"I guess, like every other player in the country, I'm desperate to have a crack at the Lions," Phipps said.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that a lot of players don't get."

Deans named a preliminary squad last month and will add six more on June 11 ahead of the first test in Brisbane on June 22, but the rigours of the physical Super Rugby competition are taking their toll.

First choice openside flanker David Pocock will miss the series with George Smith, a likely replacement, struggling with a knee problem picked up last month.

Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was left out because of a broken arm.

Media reports in Australia suggest back Kurtley Beale, who is undergoing treatment for alcohol-related problems in a Sydney clinic, will also be invited to train with the squad after a runout for his club Randwick on Saturday.

The current 25-strong squad will be increased to 31 later this month, with the first Lions Test scheduled for Brisbane on June 22.


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