James Horwill to captain Australia

The final places in 31-man squad are confirmed ahead of Australia's three tests against British and Irish Lions.

    James Horwill to captain Australia
    Kurtley Beale makes squad despite suspension from the Melbourne Rebels but Quade Cooper misses out [GETTY]

    Troubled halfback Kurtley Beale has been confirmed as one of the six players added to the Australia squad for three tests against the British and Irish Lions, while Queensland lock James Horwill has been named captain of the team.

    The final places in the 31-man squad were confirmed on Monday, with Beale being joined by Hugh McMeniman, Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe, Peter Kimlin and Scott Sio.

    Beale underwent counseling this season for alcohol-related issues which had caused him to be suspended from his Super Rugby side, the Melbourne Rebels.

    Melbourne halfback Luke Burgess and Queensland hooker James Hanson will also remain with the squad this week as injury cover at the team's training base on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane.

    The announcement by Australia coach Robbie Deans put an end to the 'will-he or won't-he' question mark over Queensland flyhalf Quade Cooper's place in the team.

    Cooper was fined last year by the Australian Rugby Union after making critical comments about Deans and talking about a 'toxic' environment on the squad. But ultimately Deans felt that Cooper's defensive skills were not strong enough to be named to the team.

    Altercation

    On Sunday, Cooper was reportedly involved in an altercation at a Brisbane pub not long after he was told by Deans he would not be part of the test side unless he was brought into the team as an injury replacement.

    A witness told the News Limited newspaper that a pub patron goaded Cooper by verbally abusing him and throwing a plastic cup of beer over him. An argument ensued before security staff intervened and ejected the patron.

    Horwill's return to the Australian captaincy comes after a hamstring injury ruled him out of the entire test season last year.

    Deans said the selection of the final places in the squad was complicated by additional injuries to ACT Brumbies halfback Nic White and prop Dan Palmer.

    "Ultimately it's come down to the balance of the group. And there has been a 'ripple effect' so to speak, with the decisions made in some areas having repercussions in others,'' he said.

    He said Beale's versatility won him a place in the team, as he has proven himself at test level at both fullback and flyhalf.

    "We know what Kurtley is capable of in this arena," Deans said.

    "His work last week during the first camp supported our contention that it was not too soon for him to get started again, from either a physical or a mental standpoint.

    "His physical state is a testament, both to how hard he has worked, but also his desire to get started again."

    The Wallabies play the Lions in the first test on June 22 in Brisbane, followed by tests in Melbourne on June 29 and in Sydney on July 6. 

    The Lions will look to continue their perfect tour match record - they are 3-0 so far - with a match Tuesday in Newcastle against a combined New South Wales and Queensland country team.

    Australia squad:

    Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, 
    Kurtley Beale, Nick Cummins, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga'a, Israel Folau, Will Genia, Liam Gill, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, James Horwill (captain), Digby Ioane, Sekope Kepu, Peter Kimlin, Christian Leali'ifano, Pat McCabe, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, James O'Connor, Wycliff Palu, Nick Phipps, Benn Robinson, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Joe Tomane.

     

    SOURCE: AP


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