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Dublin: 1 °C Wednesday 26 February, 2020

Horwill confirmed as Wallabies skipper for Lions series

Whether it’s Paulie or Sam Warburton leading the Lions, we now know who they’ll face on Saturday week.

Image: Action Images

QUEENSLAND REDS LOCK James Horwill has been named Australia captain for their three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

Horwill has won what many considered a two-horse race between the 28-year-old and Will Genia, and will lead the Wallabies out at Suncorp Stadium on 22 June.

Western Force flanker Hugh McMeniman joined the squad from Perth on Monday to link with Kurtley Beale, Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe, Peter Kimlin and Scott Sio as the final members of the 31-man squad. Melbourne Rebels halfback Luke Burgess and the Queensland Reds hooker James Hanson will remain with the squad this week as training cover.

Reds playmaker Quade Cooper missed the cut despite impressing in parts in his side’s 22-12 loss to the Lions at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday. Australia coach Robbie Deans said the selection of the final places in the squad had not been easy, and was further complicated by injuries to players like 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,” Deans said.

Deans defended his selection of Beale, despite the playmaker enduring a troubled 2013 season, which his included a stint in rehab for alcohol issues. The Wallabies coach has been closely monitoring the Rebels star during his counselling process and is confident it is not a risk for Beale to re-enter the national set-up.

“We know what Kurtley is capable of in this arena. He showed that as recently as last year’s Spring Tour when he performed outstandingly and led the team from flyhalf in adverse circumstances against many of the opposition players we now face again,” 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 stand point. His physical state is a testament, both to how hard he has worked, but also his desire to get started again.”

Deans said the decision to train Burgess and Hanson alongside the squad acts as insurance in case of injuries in these specialist positions during the Test series.

“Not only will it help us prepare, it gets them started in case we need them, either against the Lions or down the track in the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship,” he said.

“Certainly our recent experience with injury highlights the need to prepare with extensive cover to ensure relatively seamless change should it be required.”

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