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Three changes to Wallabies squad

02nd June 2013 05:55

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Nick Phipps Wallabies training RC 2012

Called up: Nick Phipps

Australia have made three injury-enforced changes to their preliminary 25-man squad for the British and Irish Lions Test series.

Melbourne Rebels scrum-half Nick Phipps, Waratahs lock Kane Douglas and Western Force back-row forward Ben McCalman have been summoned instead of injured trio Digby Ioane, Sitaleki Timani and Scott Higginbotham.

There is still no place for playmakers Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale in the group that goes into camp in Sydney on Sunday though reports in Australia suggest 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.

Wallabies Coach Robbie Deans will add a further six players to the initial 25-man squad on June 11.

Timani and Higginbotham have dropped out of the preliminary squad after injuries suffered during this weekend's round of Super Rugby.

Their prospects of participation in the Test series from June 22 to July 6 will be determined after the pair have undergone scans for thumb and shoulder complaints respectively.

Timani sustained a suspected broken thumb during the Waratahs' game against the Crusaders on Friday, while Higginbotham dislocated his shoulder as the Force went down to the Reds.

Wing Ioane, meanwhile, underwent surgery last week for a knee ligament problem.

The Reds winger returned home from the side's recent two-match tour of South Africa after the opening match against the Cheetahs at Bloemfontein.

As he will be unable to train for some of the preparation time in the lead-up to the opening Test of the Australia 2013 Lions tour at Brisbane on June 22, the decision was made to replace him among the listed 25, although he is still joining the squad in Sydney today to continue his rehabilitation.

The selection of Phipps, who represented Australia in nine Tests last year, boosts to two the number of scrum-halves in the preliminary Wallabies squad, joining Reds scrum-half Will Genia.

"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 we our medical staff can oversee the process," said Deans.

"His absence from training opened up the opportunity to add another player. Nick has been playing well, has background with us through his experience last year and is a player who was always in our thoughts.

Deans said that Nic White, who had also been playing well, could yet be added to the group among the final six players named.

White will play for the Brumbies during this weekend's Super Rugby match against the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra.

Phipps described the call up as a "pleasant surprise" admitting he felt he had "left my run too late" after starring in the Rebels upset win over the Stormers, two days before the preliminary Wallabies squad was named.

"I'd been going ok, but felt my performance in that game, after I got on, was a step up from where I'd been," said Phipps.

"Possibly I'd been trying a bit too hard. I've really enjoyed my time with the Wallabies, especially last year when I got a few starts, and was pretty keen to get back there."

"I guess, like every other player in the country, I'm desperate to have a crack at the Lions. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that a lot of players don't get."

Deans acknowledged that Phipps' Test background, and his familiarity with the European playing style that the British and Irish Lions will bring through last year's Tour, had been considerations in his selection.

Australia squad: Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Nick Cummins, Dave Dennis, Saia Faingaa, Israel Folau, Will Genia, Liam Gill, , Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Christian Lealiifano, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, James O'Connor, Wycliff Palu, Benn Robinson, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Joe Tomane, Nick Phipps, Kane Douglas, Ben McCalman.