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Wallabies Squad Selection: No Quade? No Surprise

21/05/2013 14:10 BST | Updated 19/07/2013 10:12 BST

Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans has shown his hand with the 25 man squad named for the upcoming series with the British & Irish Lions.

Knowing the physical barrage that will come his way in the form of the Lions team selection, Deans opted to fight fire with fire picking a big, hard running pack while his backline has mix of running strike power and game intelligence.

With six more players added to the squad on June 11 there is enough time for certain players to make their mark in the Super 15 competition (namely at scrum half, prop and hooker).

The absence of a certain Mr. Quade Cooper has been one of the real talking points of the squad selection where many will believe that his known spat last year with Deans and the Wallaby set-up, where he described the environment as "toxic" has played a part.

While it would be hard to argue that this still doesn't come into Deans' thinking from time to time, the two men have made the effort to build bridges and Deans has clearly gone for the tactical option.

Cooper is not back in the sort of form he had shown in 2010-2011 and Deans would rather not have to hide a player in the backline due to his defensive frailties.

Uncapped ACT Brumbies Christian Lealiifano has been selected instead as one of the potential fly half options alongside the immensely versatile James O'Connor and experienced Berrick Barnes.

Deans has made it clear that O'Connor would be first choice at 10 and the Melbourne Rebel definitely brings a pick of magic to the position and would be comfortable popping up anywhere in the backline.

The selection of Barnes could also hint at the way Deans would like to play. While Israel Folau's form has been outstanding this last month (good enough to keep out Jesse Mogg as well), Barnes did impress in the fullback jersey in the Autumn internationals last year.

If Deans looks to nullify the power of the Lions midfield, he could well go for a combination of Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne or Joseph Tomane at centre. With that in mind, it would be no surprise to see Berrick Barnes at 15 operating as a secondary playmaker and it would certainly take some pressure off either O'Connor or Lealiifano were they to be picked at 10.

The world-class Will Genia pretty much picks himself at 9 while Digby Ioane and Ashley-Cooper are almost guaranteed selections provided they stay fit and in some form going into the test series.

Up front the pack pretty much picks itself with a potential backrow of Michael Hooper, Scott Higginbotham and Wycliff Palu offering pace and power in equal measure though the Brumbies Ben Mowen can't be discounted.

James Horwill, the likely captain, will occupy one of the second row slots while the sheer size and power of Sitaleki Timani could see him edge out Rob Simmons in the middle of the pack.

Tatafu Polota-Nau's broken army during Saturday's win over the ACT Brumbies, where veteran flanker George Smith picked up a knee injury, has ruled him out of the series leaving Stephen Moore and Saia Faingaa to fight it out at hooker with the experienced Moore likely to edge out the Queensland Red.

Meanwhile Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander are undoubtedly Deans first choice props and with these two packing down, the stereotypes of the weak Australian scrum are debunked time and time again.

As the Wallabies showed last year, they do not fear facing off against Northern Hemisphere opposition and with a number of the Lions having never beaten the Wallabies or been involved in an eight match losing streak to them, the home side will feel they have psychological edge on the touring side.

Deans has picked a side that can, not only match the Lions in the physicality stakes, but also arguably offers more in the way of sheer attacking skill than the power-packed visitors.

Preliminary Australia 25-man squad:

Backs: Israel Folau, Digby Ioane, Joe Tomane, Nick Cummins, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Christian Lealiifano, Berrick Barnes, James O'Connor, Will Genia

Forwards: Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Liam Gill, Scott Higginbotham, Dave Dennis, Ben Mowen, Rob Simmons, James Horwill, Sitaleki Timani, James Slipper, Ben Alexander, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, Saia Faingaa