Friday 19 January 2018

Deans hoping troubled star Beale can give Australia welcome lift

Conor George

Conor George

AUSTRALIA'S preliminary 25-man squad will come together in Sydney for the first time after this weekend's round of Super 15 matches.

Those selected will not play for their clubs until after the Lions series.

Another six players will be added to their squad the following week after the next round of matches, which will see the Brumbies play the Rebels and the Western Force face the Warratahs.

Australia have been hit badly by injuries in recent weeks. Flanker David Pocock is definitely out of the series with the Lions, while George Smith is facing a race against time to be available. It is hoped he will be fit in time for the second Test in Melbourne on June 29.

It is also hoped that Kurtley Beale will be added to the squad in the coming weeks.

The mercurial back has spent the last fortnight in rehab receiving treatment for alcohol addiction.

He makes a return to action today with club side Randwick. His Melbourne Rebels team-mates meanwhile take on the Reds in Brisbane in their Super Rugby clash tonight.

RECALLED

Twenty-four-year old Beale has only managed to play four Super 15 games for the Rebels this season and hasn't started a game since round 3, but it is expected he will be recalled by Australia coach Robbie Deans if he comes through today's outing unscathed.

Beale's season has been disrupted by his much publicised alcohol problems, as well as a hand injury and two suspensions.

It has also been suggested Quade Cooper might be added to the squad if he can show he is beginning to return to the scintillating form that saw him guide the Reds to the Super 15 title in 2011.

Cooper's Reds face the Melbourne Rebels in Brisbane today, pitting him against his Wallaby rival James O'Connor.

Robbie Deans has shown a preference for O'Connor over the 38-capped Cooper, citing a lack of assertiveness from the Queensland Reds playmaker as the reason for his omission from the squad of 25 who will gather in Sydney tomorrow evening.

O'Connor missed the Rebels' rousing wins over the Western Stormers and NSW Waratahs with a chest injury and he desperately needs game time at No 10 before next month's Lions Test series.

This game, however, gives Cooper the perfect platform to launch a late bid to be included in Deans' plans.

Irish Independent

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