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Lions Daily Blog 2013

Saturday 29th June 2013

FRIDAY may well have been the calm before the storm for the Lions on the eve of the 2nd Test in Melbourne, but for recently qualified Dr Jamie Roberts, still recovering from his hamstring injury during the match against the NSW Waratahs, it was anything but calm.

 

The avid guitarist had the privilege of appearing on stage at the Festival Hall Melbourne ‘for one night only’ with his rock star heroes, the Manic Street Preachers, currently on tour in Australia.

In what he described as the "best five minutes of my life", guitar-playing Roberts was called up to play on the Manics' hit track You Love Us. Afterwards he said, it was "one of the best experiences I've ever had. Incredible."

Jamie Roberts Manic Street Preachers Melbourne

And yes, Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers, who like many celebrities are huge rugby fans, admitted they did plan their tour around the Lions Tour.

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Friday 28th June 2013

WalesNOT only Wallabies are trifling with the law during the British & Irish Lions Tour. Welsh International prop, Craig Mitchell, on holiday following the Lions after representing Wales on their losing Summer Tour to Japan, was arrested after punching Australian lawyer, Cian Barry at the Normanby Hotel in Brisbane following the 1st Test.

Craig Mitchell WalesMitchell, led by his friend and fellow Welshman, Richard Andrew Davies, started the fight after Barry attempted to calm matters between Australian and Lions fans after friendly banter turned nasty.

Mitchell was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years, fined AUS$1,800 (£1,100) and ordered to pay AUS$3000 in compensation to Barry, while Davies was ordered to pay AUS$2,000 in compensation to the victim, the son of a judge, and fined AUS$1,000 by Magistrate Anne Thacker.

 

No statement has been issued by the Welsh Rugby Union, but Mitchell's club, English Premiership side Exeter Chiefs have issued a written warning, and he faces sack if transgresses again within six months.

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Thursday 27th June 2013

australiaWALLABIES captain, James Horwill today returned to the spotlight after his initial disciplinary for stamping on Alun Wyn Jones’ head was dismissed last Sunday by Nigel Hampton QC of New Zealand.

James Horwill Wallabies appealThe International Rugby Board has confirmed to the Australian Rugby Union that it will appeal the James Horwill disciplinary decision following an extensive review of the case. Given its duty to preserve player welfare at all levels of the Game, the IRB is compelled to further examine potential acts of foul play which either potentially or in reality impact on the preservation of player welfare.

The appeal will be heard by Graeme Mew (Canada) on Monday 1 July at 8:00pm AEST, following the second Test between Australia and the British & Irish Lions via video conference. Horwill is free to play pending the outcome of the appeal.

ARU is “surprised and disappointed” that the International Rugby Board intervened overnight to demand the re-hearing of a foul play charge.

Under Regulation 17.22.2 the IRB has the right to appeal disciplinary decisions. But never has the IRB used that power to set aside a “not guilty” verdict.

“This is an unprecedented step taken by the IRB in what is the most important Rugby event staged in Australia since the 2003 Rugby World Cup,” said ARU CEO Bill Pulver.

“While we respect the right of the IRB to intervene, we also respect the knowledge and experience of appointed – and independent – Judicial Officers, and their expertise to consider evidence and reach sound findings.”

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Thursday 27th June 2013

British LionsTHE British & Irish Lions have announced the team to play the Qantas Wallabies in the 2nd Test at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Saturday where the starting XV comprises five changes to the side that won in Brisbane last Saturday.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs is promoted from the bench to replace Mike Phillips.  He joins brother Tom, who plays his second Test at hooker, while flanker Dan Lydiate, who captained the Lions against the Rebels on Tuesday night, replaces Tom Croft and wing Tommy Bowe takes over from Alex Cuthbert on the right wing following his return to full fitness.

2nd  TEST PREVIEW FROM FORMER LION LEWIS MOODY

Two additional changes are forced by injury. Second row Geoff Parling replaces Paul O’Connell, who suffered a fracture to his right arm in the 1st Test while Mako Vunipola takes over Alex Corbisiero, who strained a calf muscle in the same game.

On the bench there are five changes with Ryan Grant, Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray, Tom Croft and Alex Cuthbert earning spots alongside Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole and Owen Farrell.

Click here for the full British & Irish Lions team...

Australia vs Lions Test 1

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Thursday 27th June 2013

australiaBRUMBIES front-rower Ben Alexander will become just the 38th Australian to feature in 50 Tests after being named today as part of the Qantas Wallabies side to take on the British & Irish Lions in Melbourne on Saturday.

Saturday night’s match, at a sold out Etihad Stadium, is the second of the three Test series in the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour, with Australia needing to win to keep the race for the Tom Richards Cup alive.

Today’s line-up features two backline changes to the run on XV as Kurtley Beale returns to the starting fullback spot, while Joe Tomane resumes on the left wing, replacing the injured Berrick Barnes and Digby Ioane respectively.

Midfielder Rob Horne (14 Tests) and the uncapped fullback Jesse Mogg have both been added to the bench. The pair have already tangled with the Lions on this tour, appearing for the NSW Waratahs and Brumbies respectively.

While replacement back Pat McCabe has also been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a blow to his neck at Suncorp Stadium, his Brumbies team-mate Christian Leali’ifano has been cleared to resume, after his Test debut in Brisbane was cruelly cut short in the opening minute following a midfield collision with Wales and Lions inside centre Jonathan Davies.

The Australian forward pack for Saturday night is unchanged from the unit that featured in the opening Test, with the selection of Alexander the feature, as the 28-year-old becomes just the fourth prop to appear in 50 Tests for the Wallabies.

Click here for the full Wallabies team to face the Lions...

Australia vs Lions Test 1

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Wednesday 26th June 2013

British LionsMelbourne Rebels IT was an historic evening at AAMI Park as the RaboDirect Rebels welcomed the British & Irish Lions to Melbourne for the biggest game in the Club's short history. It was a full 125 years since the first British & Irish Lions side played in Melbourne, and the Rebels were trying to inflict just the second ever defeat against the tourists on Victorian soil.

Unfortunately for the Rebels' largest ever home crowd of 28,658, the hosts were outshone by a Lions outfit who were determined to chalk up their 100th victory in Australia. After leading 14-0 at halftime, the Lions were able to shut out a Rebels outfit who showed more in defence than attack as they were defeated 35-0.

Melbourne Rebels British Lions Simon Zebo Owen Farrell

It was a frenetic opening to the match, and though the tourists threatened early it was clear that the Rebels were not intimidated by the experienced side of internationals.

To the credit of the young Rebels side who finished the game, they went very close to getting on the scoresheet through the likes of Stirzaker and Woodward, but the experience of a Lions side playing for test spots was enough to ensure they completed a shutout.

The match was played within an incredible atmosphere, and the Rebels players and coaching staff were quick to salute their fans’ unwavering support and never-say-die belief after the final siren sounded.

Whilst it was a disappointing result, the Rebels can hold their heads high for a stellar defensive performance on an historic evening.

Click here for the video highlights and the full match report...

Melbourne Rebels vs Lions

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Monday 24th June 2013

LION'S WEEKLY ROUND UP: 1st TEST BRISBANE

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Monday 24th June 2013

British LionsDan Lydiate British LionsDAN LYDIATE will now captain the British & Irish Lions against the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Dragons flanker Lydiate will lead the team instead of Geoff Parling, who has been withdrawn from the starting line-up following Paul O’Connell’s tour ending injury - confirmed by a specialist in Brisbane this morning as an undisplaced fracture of his lower right arm.

Ospreys second row Ian Evans will start against the Rebels in place of Parling, while Ireland and Ulster prop Tom Court has been drafted onto the replacements' bench for Mako Vunipola, who is being rested as cover for the 2nd Test due to Alex Corbisiero’s calf injury. Tom Croft comes on to the bench for Evans.

Click here for the revised British & Irish Lions team...

Melbourne Rebels vs Lions

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Monday 24th June 2013

australiaDigby Ioane Queensland RedsTO add to Australia’s woes having lost he first test against the British & Irish Lions, an arrest warrant has been issued for Wallabies winger Digby Ioane after he failed to appear in a Melbourne court following an assault charge on 9th March 2013.

The Queenslands Reds player was involved in a scuffle following the teams win over the Melbourne Rebels, and was immediately stood down by the club for one match. Ioane was not charged until 17th May while in South Africa for Super Rugby. His failure to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court led to the warrant being issued.

Apparently Ioane forgot about his appointment, though he has already been ruled out of the remainder of the Lions Tour -alongside Pat McCabe- after suffering internal damage to his right shoulder during the 1st Test and will require further follow up scans, with surgery a possibility.

The ARU issued a statement that “it was only made aware late this afternoon of the issue involving Digby Ioane.

“Since being made aware through media reports, ARU has worked expeditiously with Digby Ioane and Victorian Police to attend to this matter.

"Digby will report to Victorian Police and will be issued with a revised court date.”

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Sunday 23rd June 2013

British LionsGeoff Parling British Lions ENGLAND and British Lion, Geoff Parling had two events to celebrate yesterday after being part of the winning Lions team for the 1st Test, and becoming a father for the second time.

In the build up to the all important Test match in Brisbane, the 6’7” lock was pacing in his hotel room as wife, Elle gave birth via a planned C-section back in Leicester. Parling was following proceedings in real time via Skype and FaceTime, until the mid-wife turned off his connection to England and he had nothing to do but wait until May Rose arrived.

“I was pacing around the room for about an hour, quite nervous to be honest because you never know how it is going to go. Then I got FaceTimed again, and I heard someone laughing, so as soon as I heard that I knew everything was fine.”

After Kurtley Beale missed the all important kick that would have stolen the match for Australia, Parling said, “I spoke to Dan Cole afterwards and I said, ‘I’ve just had a healthy daughter and we’ve just won a Test in Australia but it doesn’t feel like that’. Does that make sense? It was almost like we’d lost. It was focused I’d say, very focused.

“We were disappointed at the end. If you looked at the pack when the final whistle went we were a bit, ‘Jeez, thank God Beale missed that’.”

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Sunday 23rd June 2013

Melbourne Rebels THE Melbourne Rebels have named their strongest available team for Tuesday night's historical match against The British & Irish Lions, with Wallaby and recently capped halfback Luke Burgess selected in the run on side. 

Burgess' last start on Australia soil was almost two years ago to the day, with the 37 Test veteran marking the the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour as one of the key reasons for his return home.

"Every Rugby player's dream is to have the opportunity to play The British & Irish Lions in their home country, and I am very honoured to have been selected to start for the Rebels and get a chance to play them," said Burgess.

With Wallabies Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor and Nick Phipps unavailable for selection due to national selection, the Rebels also welcome the return of Hugh Pyle and Jarrod Saffy into the starting XV, after both returning from injury.

Melbourne Rebels Head Coach, Damien Hill, said the selection of the Rebels youth was a shining example of the belief the coaching staff and players have in the Club's future. 

To celebrate the first ever match between the Melbourne Rebels and The British & Irish Lions, the Rebels will wear a commemorative strip. 

Click here for the Melbourne Rebels team...

Melbourne Rebels vs Lions

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Sunday 23rd June 2013

australiaQANTAS WALLABIES captain, James Horwill, was cited late last night for stamping or trampling against the British & Irish Lions’ lock, Alun Wyn Jones, in the opening Test of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour.

 

Under Law 10.4 b, a player must not stamp or trample on an opponent. But Horwill was today cleared to play in the second Test of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour after the charge was not upheld.

In handing down his decision, Judicial Officer, Nigel Hampton QC found that on the balance of probabilities he could not find an intentional or deliberate action of stamping or trampling.

“After hearing all the evidence I could not find that when James Horwill’s right foot came into glancing contact with Alun Wyn Jones’ face, that he Horwill was acting recklessly,” Mr Hampton said.

“I found that I could not reject as being implausible or improbable Horwill’s explanation that as he was driving forward with his right leg raised he was spun off balance through the impact of Lions players entering the ruck from the opposite side.

“In an endeavour to regain his balance Horwill brought his right leg to the ground unknowing that Alun Wyn Jones’ head was in that area, due to having his sight impeded by the presence of Michael Hooper and Tom Croft who were beneath him and over the top of Alun Wyn Jones.

“Due to these reasons I cannot uphold the citing.”

Unsurprisingly, the rugby community from all sides is in uproar at the ruling, and is demanding the IRB step in.

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Sunday 23rd June 2013

A host of injuries struck both sides following the 1st Test of the British & Irish Lions Tour of Australia.

australiaGeorge Smith AustraliaThe Wallabies have drafted in Brumbies flanker and former national team captain George Smith from international retirement, his Brumbies team-mate Jesse Mogg, and the Queensland Reds centre Ben Tapuai to join the camp in Melbourne. In doubt for involvement in the rest of the tour at the moment are Pat McCabe (neck), winger Digby Ioane (shoulder), centre Adam Ashley-Cooper (shoulder) and fullback Berrick Barnes (head knock).

Inside centre Christian Leali’ifano, who sustained a glancing blow to the head on his Wallabies debut, and left the field in the opening minute, will also be reviewed further once the Wallabies settle in Melbourne.

British LionsIn the Lions camp, Lions stalwart Paul O’Connell has been ruled out with an an undisplaced fracture of his lower right arm. No decision has been made on whether O’Connell will leave or stay with the squad as yet.

Tom Court IrelandProp Tom Court has been called up to the British & Irish Lions camp since he was already in his home city of Brisbane after Ireland’s tour of North America, following a calf injury to Alex Corbisiero that continues to be treated and assessed.

The Ulster forward will join up with the squad tomorrow and go straight on to the replacements’ bench for Tuesday’s game against the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels in place of Mako Vunipola, who has been withdrawn.

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Sunday 23rd June 2013

British LionsThe British & Irish Lions have announced the team to play the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Geoff Parling British Lions 2013Four of the Lions team - Dan Lydiate, Geoff Parling, Richard Hibbard and Dan Cole - that beat Australia in the 1st Test on Saturday will start. England and Leicester Tigers second row Geoff Parling will captain the side.

Parling’s club-mate Manu Tuilagi makes his return, having not played since sustaining a shoulder injury in the Queensland Reds game. He is joined in the centre by England team-mate Brad Barritt.

Sean O’Brien returns to the No 7 jersey after two runs on the blindside, while fullback Rob Kearney plays his third match of the tour and Owen Farrell starts at fly-half.

Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “I am very pleased for Geoff. For him to be part of a winning Lions Test side is very special and he has shown throughout the tour that he is one of the many leaders we have in the squad so we are looking forward to seeing him in that captaincy role.

“It is also good to get Manu back on the pitch after a frustrating injury. This is a good chance for him and others to put their hands up.”

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Sunday 23rd June 2013

British LionsaustraliaTHE British and Irish Lions had never lost a game in Brisbane, and history remained unchanged after the first Test of the 2013 series, as Australia’s misplaced kicking boots cost them dearly at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The Lions have gone one-up in the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour test series after a thrilling 23-21 victory over the Wallabies in a drama charged first Test played at Suncorp Stadium in front of a new ground record crowd of 52,499.

Before the kick-off the Australian Rugby Union campaign to combat the ‘sea of red’ provided by the Lions fans was fairly matched with the Wallabies jerseys and gold Safari Hats flooding the atmosphere-charged stadium.

Wallabies British Lions 1st Test anthems

The match was lit up by two of the best solo tries in recent memory, from newly crowned Lion George North, and international debutant Israel Folau for the Wallabies, who scored breath-taking individual tries as the Lions held on for the nail-biting victory, after the Wallabies were severely disrupted by four injuries to key backline players.

With the match neck and neck throughout, the host side’s usually reliable kicking boot, Kurtley Beale had a chance to win the game with a penalty attempt in the final minute from 46 metres out after the Wallabies pack had won a penalty at a Lions scrum-feed, but the young fullback slipped while taking the kick and the ball skidded wide.

Click here for the video highlights and the full match report...

Australia vs Lions Test 1

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Thursday 20th June 2013

British LionsTHE British & Irish Lions announce the team to play the Qantas Wallabies in the 1st Test at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, with a starting XV comprising eight new Test Lions and will be captained by Sam Warburton.

In the backs Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, George North, Jonathan Davies and Jonathan Sexton all make their Lions Test debuts, while experience is provided by Brian O’Driscoll and Mike Philips, who have nine Lions Tests between them.

The forward pack contains a wealth of Lions Test experience with Jamie Heaslip, Tom Croft, Paul O’Connell, Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Jones sharing 17 Tests.

Loose-head prop Alex Corbisiero, who joined the tour as a replacement, also makes his debut along with Warburton and hooker Tom Youngs.

British & Irish Lions Tour Manager Andy Irvine said: "We are now at the business end of the tour. You can feel the excitement and commitment within the squad now that we are back in Brisbane and the 1st Test is just days away.”

Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “After six matches we have arrived at the 1st Test and have selected our strongest possible side with only Jamie Roberts, Tommy Bowe and Manu Tuilagi unavailable for selection.

“The Wallabies at home pose a huge challenge but the Test team contains 20 of the players that played against the Waratahs in what was our best match to date. We now have a couple of more days of match preparation to ensure we improve again on that performance.”

Click here for the full British & Irish Lions team...

Australia vs Lions Test 1

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Wednesday 19th June 2013

australiaTHE Brumbies pair of Ben Mowen (No. 869) and Christian Leali’ifano (No. 868), alongside the NSW Waratahs outside back Israel Folau (No. 867), will all make their international debuts after being named in the Qantas Wallabies starting line-up for Saturday’s opening Test of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Leali’ifano, who starts at inside centre, and Folau, wing, join an exciting backline which sees the Gold Coast-raised James O’Connor team with Queensland halfback Will Genia as the inside back combination.

Only six of the starting XV from Australia’s 14-12 win over a Warren Gatland-prepared Wales at Cardiff at the end of 2012, will feature in the run-on side for the Tom Richards Cup opener: fullback Berrick Barnes, centre Adam Ashley-Cooper, No 8 Wycliff Palu, lock Kane Douglas and props, Ben Alexander and Benn Robinson.

A Queensland State of Origin and Australian Kangaroo representative in rugby league, Folau joined the NSW Waratahs this season after two years in Australian Rules Football with Greater Western Sydney.

Although the run-on line-up features three who are playing their first Tests, the starting XV is still an experienced one, boasting a combined 519 previous Test appearances.

Click here for the full Wallabies team to face the Lions...

Australia vs Lions Test 1

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Tuesday 18th June 2013

British LionsTHE 'new kid on the block', veteran British & Irish Lions tourist, Shane Williams may be the oldest player on tour, but says he would not have said yes to Lions coach Rob Howley on Saturday night on the phone if he was not match fit.

In a surreal moment, asleep in a hotel room in Narita, east of Tokyo, Williams got the call.

''It was one of those conversations where I can't really remember most of it. I remember thinking it was surreal. I was lying on my back most of the night thinking: 'Did that really happen?'”

Shane Williams Christian Wade Andy Farrell British Lions 2013

Now firmly ensconced in camp in Canberra on his Lions third tour, with four caps and six tries under his belt already, Williams has had his only training session with the 2013 contingent, and has deduced these Lions are ready to beat Australia. “Just running alongside them, there is almost like an arrogance running off them that they believe they can win this series,” said Williams.

“That's great to have. Sometimes these tours are won mentally rather than physically and they are in a strong mental place at the moment.”

The other wing, 22 year old Christian Wade, with only one cap for England from his debut in Argentina 10 days ago, is in awe of his teammate, now that he has got over the shock of the call up. Shane's one of those players who I've watched and tried to learn a lot off from a distance,” said Wade.

“To be able to play alongside side him is probably beyond my dreams. I probably wouldn't have got the chance to play against him in my career and to play with him is taking it to the next level.”

And the master is convinced the protégé is likely to make the Test team: “He's a very talented player, new on the scene and already raising eyebrows,” Williams said.

“I'm looking forward to playing with him and seeing what he's got. He's more than capable of showing what he's got and being part of this Test series, I think.”

For one night only, this partnership of wings is likely to be electric, as well as making history.

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Monday 17th June 2013

BrumbiesJAKE WHITE, head coach at ACT Brumbies, who the Lions face tomorrow in Australia’s capital, is convinced that Saturday’s first test is the make or break match for the future of the British and Irish Lions.

Jake White Nelson Mandela John Smit RWC Trophy 2007Questioning the Lions’ win record that has eluded them since 1997 in South Africa, White, who knows a thing or two about winning after leading the Springboks to a second Rugby World Cup triumph in Paris in 2007, has quite strong views on where the Lions are at today: “The romantic part of the Lions and all the things that go with the Lions are meaningless unless they start winning series.”

White agrees that the hosts have a certain advantage:The Wallabies will think they are right having players fresh. (They) are banking on the fact that the home ground in Brisbane is where they play their best rugby. If they don’t win there, it is highly unlikely they are going to play better rugby in Melbourne and then in Sydney.”

But he also argues the Lions played in Hong Kong in the heat, in the rain against the Reds, they’ve tried combinations against the Waratahs and they are resting players against us. And that’s fine, Gatland knows that this first Test will make or break the series.

“They will believe with the game time, combinations and time they’ve had to gel, on-field performances with off-field synergies and dynamics will be enough to carry them through.”

Sir Clive Woodward British Lions 2005Though ultimately he is not favouring either side, the ever-controversial coach does believe Warren Gatland has got it wrong by not following the example of Sir Clive Woodward who took a squad of 44 to New Zealand in 2005 with two distinct mid-week and test teams. But White appears to have forgotten SCW managed to rip apart Lions tradition and return to the United Kingdom with a 3-0 whitewash after the All Blacks annihilated the tourists, a feat not previously achieved since Jim Telfer's 1983 New Zealand 4-0 loss.

Maybe he should concentrate a little harder on his own team not being demolished by the British & Irish Lions in Canberra, who so far have waltzed over every Australian franchise as well as the Barbarians. But if anyone knows how...

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Monday 17th June 2013

australiaQANTAS WALLABIES fans can meet their heroes ahead of the opening Test of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour in Brisbane.

Fans are encouraged to arrive from 5:00pm, Tuesday 18th June for the chance to mix and mingle with the Qantas Wallabies squad at Brisbane City Hall.

Meet the WallabiesThere will be plenty of giveaways and the opportunity for fans to have their photo taken with the Tom Richards Cup, which the Qantas Wallabies and Lions will compete for.

The players will be on hand to have their photos taken and sign autographs.

There will also be the opportunity for those attending to win a signed 2013 Qantas Wallabies jersey, as well as tickets to the opening Test between the Qantas Wallabies and British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday 22 June.

Click here for Meet The Wallabies details...

Meet the Wallabies

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Monday 17th June 2013

LION'S WEEKLY ROUND UP: SYDNEY

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Sunday 16th June 2013

BrumbiesBritish LionsBOTH sides have named the sides in the British & Irish Lions final foray before they face the Green & Gold on Saturday in Brisbane.

Ireland’s Rory Best will captain the Lions, whilst England centre Billy Twelvetrees, who arrived in Sydney on Friday, will make his Lions debut alongside Brad Barritt, who joins the tour from America where he was on holiday.

Former Wales and Lions wing Shane Williams, will start on the left wing while young England star Christian Wade, who made his Test debut last weekend against the Pumas, will play on the right.

For the ACT Brumbies, Wallabies squad members Peter Kimlin and Scott Sio will join Canberra club star, Chris Cocca when the University of Canberra Brumbies take on the Lions on Tuesday night, alongside three new inclusions to the team. Cocca is joined on the bench by fellow prop Jean-Pierre Smith, while his identical twin brother Ruan Smith, will start at loose-head prop.

“This is a huge occasion for us as a team, but also individually. The Lions are one of rugby’s last romantic sides, there is plenty of history there and we know that beating the Lions will go down in Canberra’s rugby folk law for many years to come,” said Rugby World Cup winning Head Coach, Jake White. 

In 2001 the Brumbies went pain-stakingly close to knocking the Lions over at Canberra Stadium, but a late try to Austin Healey saved the tourists, who won 30-28, but it was a moment Brumbies supporters have not forgotten and will be hoping to go one better on Tuesday night.

Click here for the full team details...

ACT Brumbies vs Lions

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Sunday 16th June 2013

British LionsTHE injury worries continue to hamper the British & Irish Lions as more reinforcements are called in from across the globe.

Brad Barritt Christian Wade England RugbyEngland Rugby’s new star wing, Christian Wade, the Premiership’s highest try scorer and the only player in history to have won the accolades of Players' Player of the Year and the Young Player of the Year simultaneously this year, has been evacuated from Buenos Aires just before England was due to play the final match to make history by winning a Tour in Argentina. Concurrently, England centre Brad Barritt is being flown in from the United States.

Shane WilliamsBut the surprise call up is Welsh demi-god, Shane Williams. The 2008 IRB Player of the Year announced his retirement from international rugby at the end of 2011, and is now plying his trade in Japan for the Mitsubishi Dynaboars, and was to head for Australia to commentate. He now finds himself playing against the ACT Brumbies on Tuesday in Canberra in a third Lions Tour, though the appearance is exclusively for one night only we are informed.

In camp already, George North is improving daily and may well be fit for Saturday’s first test, but Tour Doctor, James Robson has said both Jamie Roberts and Tommy Bowe are not in contention.

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Saturday 15th June 2013

British LionsWaratahsTHE NSW Waratahs put up an admirable fight against the British & Irish Lions, scoring two tries against the tourists in Sydney and clocking up 17 points. But it was not a patch on the Lions’ five as they took the New South Wales side to task with a 47-point haul.

The Lions absorbed all the physical pressure from the Tahs, not once retaliating to the repeated shoulder charging, late tackles and stamping, but simply stuck to the plan laid down by Head Coach, Warren Gatland; keep calm and play ball.

A thrilling game was the result on Saturday at the Allianz Stadium, marshalled by South African referee, Jaco Peyper, which began with a lightning attack from Lions debutant Simon Zebo in the opening minute, and resulted in a record 30 points from impeccable full back, Leigh Halfpenny. The match was marred only by an hamstring injury to the indispensable Lions centre, Jamie Roberts.

Click here for the video highlights and the full match report...

NSW Waratahs vs Lions

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"THE LIONS ARE CHEATS"

Saturday 15th June 2013

Bob DwyerFORMER Wallabies coach, Bob Dwyer has accused the British & Irish Lions of being cheats in an interview with the Weekend Australian newspaper.

"We have a great game and there is massive scope for playing attractive rugby. It's not supposed to be a contest to see who can cheat the best. It's who can play the best.

"One comment I'd like to make after having seen the Lions in action on tour is that it doesn't come as any surprise they're coached by a New Zealander because they play outside the laws of the game as every New Zealand side does."

THE 72 year old coach who led Australia to their 1991 Rugby World Cup win, has not had incredible success with other teams he has coached since; forced out from Leicester Tigers after 2 years in 1998, labelled ‘Barb Dwyer’, he then earmarked Bristol Rugby as future Tigers in English rugby as they were promoted from Premiership Two to the Allied Dunbar Premiership in 1999. Bristol have since spent six years in the second tier of English rugby. Dwyer then became head coach of NSW Waratahs, taking them to a semi final in 2002 before they dropped in rankings under his leadership, and Dwyer became the club’s Development Officer.

Dylan Hartley Mako VunipolaAmusingly, he blames Kiwi-born Dylan Hartley for the scrum pushing up, despite the player not being in Australia, let alone a current British & Irish Lion since he was dropped from the squad before the tourists even left English shores. Next on his hit list is Hartley's fellow England Rugby front rower accused of consistent illegal binding, Wellington-born Mako Vunipola, who has lived in the UK since he was 8, so is not exactly a die-hard New Zealander adept in the mysterious Kiwi ways.

Scotland’s “11 foot tall” Richie Gray has upset Dwyer for allegedly pretending to catch the ball off the back of the scrum repeatedly. And all the Lions are guilty of slowing down the ball and using decoy runners.

Yes dear Mr Dwyer, is there anything in your accusations that you would not have told your players to do? Up north we call it rugby, not cheating.

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Friday 14th June 2013

British LionsWARREN GATLAND faces selection dilemmas for his 1st Test against the Wallabies with the squad being blighted with injuries.

The traditional dress rehearsal team a week out from where the real battle begins is just not happening. So far, the Lions have lost Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins in the front row, and Tommy Bowe - though there is the remotest chance he may return before the end of the tour. Of course the replacements have come, and young Billy Twelvetrees who arrives in Sydney today is expected to start against the Brumbies in Canberra next week, but the injury niggles continue.

Brian ODriscoll British Lions 2013Missing from this weekend’s line up is Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll who picked up a groin injury during the match against Combined Country. And at the grand old age of 34, he has to be more careful than spritely 21 year olds. In a press conference earlier in the week, head coach Warren Gatland said: "You saw at the end of the game that he said he had done the splits, and he just woke up a little bit sore.

"The thing with Brian is that we've got to make sure we manage him.

"We spoke about that with him specifically before the tour, saying that we didn't really want him to play more than one game a week, and at any stage if his body was a little bit sore we would make sure that we keep him fresh and didn't tire him out.”

George North & Manu Tuilagi British Lions 2013Also missing is O’Driscoll’s centre partnership Manu Tuilagi after suffering a stinger, so his fitness levels are not up to scratch. But the good news is George North who is sitting out Saturday’s game, feared to have suffered a grade one hamstring tear, looks to be on the mend and may well be fit to take a starting spot against the Wallabies.

The Lions forwards are looking far healthier than the backs right now, and with one more match to go against the ACT Brumbies before the 1st test, Gatland and his team will have to pick the squad with some caution so as not to be under-strength against the Qantas Wallabies.

Keep up with Lions & Wallabies squads and changes here...

Lions Squads 2013

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Friday 14th June 2013

WaratahsHSBC WARATAHS’ captain Dave Dennis returns from international duty to lead his state into one of the most historic matches in NSW rugby history. One of two Wallabies released for this game by national coach Robbie Deans, Dennis and Test centre Rob Horne will add a valuable 29 caps of Test experience to the courageous young squad.

With NSW looking to record their first win over the British & Irish Lions since their 18-14 victory in 1959, additional breakdown nous will be provided by the return of club captain Pat McCutcheon. 

Although still missing 11 international players, the changes mean that Head Coach Michael Cheika has been able to field a side boasting four international players, with 63-cap Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell starting at fullback and prop Paddy Ryan, who made his Test debut in the 2012 Spring Tour against France, playing at tight-head.

The rivalry between NSW and the Lions dates back 125 years to the teams’ first meeting at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 2 June, 1888 when NSW lost 2-18.  Since then, the sides have met a total of 20 times, with the NSW Waratahs recording four victories and one draw. In their last encounter on June 23, 2001 at the Sydney Football Stadium, NSW lost 24-41.

Jason Robinson and Phil Waugh head to head

Relishing the chance to make history, HSBC Waratahs Head Coach Michael Cheika said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we want it to be something worth remembering. 

“We’re playing against a team with a massive artillery. The odds are against us, massively, but we’ll try and buck them.  As long as there’s a chance, we’ll take it. Anything in red that moves, we’ll have a crack at. We need to play our game and do it as best we can and see what happens.”

Click here for the full Waratahs team to face the Lions...

NSW Waratahs vs Lions

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Thursday 13th June 2013

australiaQANTAS WALLABIES fans are to be handed gold safari hats to combat the Sea of Red that British & Irish Lions supporters will bring to the upcoming three-Test series.

The Australian Rugby Union have produced more than 50,000 “lion-hunting pith helmets” to ensure the Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Test venues have a gold hue for the long-awaited showdown.

Tatafu Polota Nau Qantas Wallabies Safari HatThe Qantas Wallabies Safari Hats will be distributed free of charge to Australian fans as they enter the respective stadiums, with around 15,000 to be given away in Brisbane, 15,000 in Melbourne, and more than 20,000 in Sydney.

“We always urge Qantas Wallabies fans to Be Bold Wear Gold, but that catchcry has never been more important than it is now,” said ARU CEO Bill Pulver.

“This has been a tour 12 years in the making. It is an incredibly important moment in our Rugby history. Added to that, we have the Lions here supported by tens of thousands of fans who will do their best to paint our stadiums red with their jerseys and face painting, their flags and hats.

British Lions sea of red

“Australia was caught unawares in 2001. The Sea of Red was a dominant feature at the Gabba for the first Test and the Wallabies felt like they were playing away, at a stadium in the UK. We don’t want a repeat of that here in 2013. We want our Qantas Wallabies fans turning up to the Tests in all their gold glory and, to assist that cause, we will be handing out the Safari Hats.”

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Thursday 13th June 2013

British LionsTHE British & Irish Lions have announced the team to play the HSBC NSW Waratahs at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday. 

The Lions enter their fifth match of the tour unbeaten following wins against the Barbarians in Hong Kong, Western Force, Queensland Reds and Combined Country. Tour captain Sam Warburton will lead the team, and he will have to step up and show his mettle if he is to silence the critics, lay claim to the captaincy on merit and account for his mediocre form against the Reds.

Simon Zebo Rob Kearney LionsIrish wing Simon Zebo, who joined the tour party on Tuesday, will make his Lions debut. And  Test colleague Rob Kearney will make his first appearance of the tour on the bench after recovering from a leg injury that made him unavailable for selection until this point of the tour.

British & Irish Lions Tour Manager Andy Irvine said: "The tour has now moved on to Sydney, where we face another tough examination in front of a parochial sell-out crowd. The squad has a lot of respect for the NSW Waratahs who have proven down the years to be tough opponents.

“The match represents the final Saturday match prior to the 1st Test in Brisbane. Naturally, the players know that Test places are still up for grabs and they will be eager to press for selection against the Wallabies.”

Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “It would be great to remain unbeaten and take that momentum into the 1st Test. However, more importantly we are looking to finalise key playing combinations and strengthen our patterns of play during the next two matches.

“This match, the fourth of our lead-up matches in Australia, will assist in this process. To beat the Waratahs we know we have to improve on our strong performance last Saturday against the Reds. This side is more than capable of doing that.” 

Click here for the full British & Irish Lions team...

NSW Waratahs vs Lions

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Thursday 13th June 2013

WaratahsHSBC Waratahs’ captain Dave Dennis and centre Rob Horne have been released by the Qantas Wallabies to play for NSW in Saturday’s game against The British & Irish Lions. The pair will depart the Sunshine Coast tonight to join up with their state team-mates ahead of Saturday night’s sold out Alliance Stadium match.

Dave Dennis, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley & Matt Lucas: Waratahs

The join Bernard Foley and Matt Lucas, who were yesterday released by the Australian Sevens squad from the team’s three-week training camp ahead of the World Cup later this month.

Their return has been welcomed by HSBC Waratahs Head Coach Michael Cheika, who had been forced to call up eight Shute Shield players to cover the absence of the team’s 10 Wallabies, six injured players and two on 7s duty.

As well as helping NSW, the decision of Qantas Wallabies’ coach Robbie Deans to release them also guarantees the players more rugby – and valuable exposure to the tourists’ playing style – prior to the start of the Test series in Brisbane on June 22.

Cheika and his squad will now race the clock to finalise their preparation for one of the biggest games in NSW Waratahs history.  The team to play The Lions will be announced tomorrow.

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Wednesday 12th June 2013

British LionsBILLY TWELVETREES is the fourth replacement called up, leaving England’s tour of Argentina to join the British & Irish Lions in Australia.

Billy TwelvetreesFollowing injury concerns over Johnny Sexton, Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi, with just five caps under his belt the versatile England and Gloucester Rugby centre who can play at fly half, and try scorer in last weekend’s 32-3 win against the Pumas, has been called up as back line cover and leaves Buenos Aires today to fly to Sydney.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “All the England players and management delighted for Billy to get this great opportunity.

“He’s played well for England this year, underlined that form with his display against Argentina at the weekend and goes with our full support and blessing.”

British & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “The nature of a Lions tour means that there will inevitably be knocks which take time to recover from. The whole squad have worked hard but a lot of the backs have doubled up over the last two games, either starting or from the bench. Billy played well in the 1st Test for England and he provides that versatility to cover a variety of positions.”

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Tuesday 11th June 2013

Combined Country 2013 LionsTHE Combined Country put up a mighty fight against the British & Irish Lions, but were unable to prevent a 64-0 massacre by the tourists on Tuesday.

British LionsThe ten-try routing may look convincing on paper, but the novice team from across the regions of Australia, which featured an engineer, a labourer, a medical student, an apprentice plumber, and a removalist alongside professional rugby players, highlighted some glaring flaws in the Lions arsenal. The line out was particularly worrying, though improved somewhat once Rory Best replace Richard Hibbard.

The first half was a far more convincing affair than the second, with the visitors running in six tries. With both Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell rested, the surprise turn up for the Lions was Scottish full back, Stuart Hogg who started in the unusual position of 10 for the first time in his professional rugby career. The last time the 20 year old Glasgow Warrior was at fly half was in his school days at Hawick. Despite this, Hogg performed admirably, his goal kicking proficient, and he bossed the game around well, as well as scoring a try of his own.

The only slight casualty concern was George North taken off as a precaution at half time, to be replaced by Leigh Halfpenny.

Though the stats would claim otherwise, the Lions have a lot of work to do if they are to challenge the Wallabies and win the Test Series, in the lineout, in passing, in depth of play and in their kicking game.

Click here for the full match report...

Combined Country vs Lions

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Monday 10th June 2013

australiaTHE final six places in the Qantas Wallabies squad for the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour have been confirmed today with Hugh McMeniman arriving in from Perth to join Kurtley Beale, Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe, Peter Kimlin and Scott Sio as the newcomers at the training base on the Sunshine Coast ahead of the three Test series, which opens in Brisbane on June 22.

Wallabies Squad

Melbourne Rebels halfback Luke Burgess and the Queensland Reds hooker James Hanson will remain with the squad this week as training cover.

James Horwill WallabiesIn addition, Australia’s 2011 Tri-Nations-winning skipper James Horwill has been confirmed as Qantas Wallabies skipper, returning to the role he last held on the Spring Tour two years ago, before a hamstring injury last year ruled him out of the entire Test season.

Uncapped Brumbies prop Scott Sio, who has impressed during his full rookie Super Rugby season with the Australian conference winners, having been blooded briefly while on a development contract last term. The powerful 21-year-old, who is one of four uncapped players in the squad, is the son of Tevita Sio, who anchored the Manu Samoa front-row during that country’s maiden Rugby World Cup voyage. An Australian Schools representative as a loose forward on its tour of the UK and Ireland in 2009, Sio was born in Sydney while his father was on tour propping the Manu Samoa scrum at the second world championship in 1991.

Deans, who attended both the Brumbies-Melbourne Rebels and Queensland Reds-British & Irish Lions fixtures last weekend, says the selection of the final places in the squad hadn’t been easy, being further complicated by additional injuries – most notably to the Brumbies halfback Nic White and prop Dan Palmer.

Beale’s versatility, having proven himself at Test level at both fullback and flyhalf, won his place, with Deans saying he had no concerns as to either the players’ physical state or mental well-being despite his limited on-field preparation as he has attended to off-field issues. While the process of counselling for alcohol-related issues is on-going, Deans doesn’t believe it is a distraction for either Beale or the team.

 “We know what Kurtley is capable of in this arena. He showed that as recently as last year’s Spring (November) 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 says.

“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.”

McCabe’s inclusion adds another experienced midfield hand to counter the Lions’ massive backline, with the hard-running Brumbies inside centre having acted as both a member of the team’s leadership group and as its defensive rock in recent seasons.

Ioane’s attendance at last week’s camp allowed medical staff to assess the progress on the rehabilitation of his right knee following surgery, clearing the way for his involvement, with a return date to be determined as his training load increases.

Kimlin returns to the Wallabies after a four-year absence, offering versatility to the forward unit having featured at lock, the blindside flank and No 8 in Super Rugby this year.

For McMeniman, who made a successful return from a shoulder injury last Sunday in Perth, selection rewards his decision to return to Australia and Super Rugby this year after four years playing in Japan.
The versatility of the hard-nosed 29-year-old, who has played 21 Tests, has helped vault the lock-blindside flanker into the squad after the Wallabies lost the injured Sitaleki Timani and Scott Higginbotham.

Deans says McMeniman’s return to the national side should offer encouragement for other Australian players based overseas to not give up on another shot at the Wallabies if they return home, including 37-Test halfback Burgess, who resumed his Australian career after two seasons with the French Top 14 club Toulouse.

NAME

POSITION

TEAM

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 (C)
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

Prop
Fullback-Wing-Midfield
Flyhalf/Inside Centre/Fullback
Fullback/Flyhalf
Wing
Loose Forward
Lock
Hooker
Fullback-Wing
Halfback
Flanker
Flanker
Inside Centre
LOCK
Wing
Prop
Utility Forward
Flyhalf/Inside Centre
Inside Centre
Loose Forward
Lock/Flanker
Hooker
Loose Forward
Flyhalf/Wing
No 8
Halfback
Prop
Lock
Prop
Prop
Wing

Brumbies
NSW Waratahs
NSW Waratahs
Melbourne Rebels
Western Force
NSW Waratahs
NSW Waratahs
Queensland Reds
NSW Waratahs
Queensland Reds
Queensland Reds
NSW Waratahs
NSW Waratahs
QUEENSLAND REDS
Queensland Reds
NSW Waratahs
Brumbies
Brumbies
Brumbies
Western Force
Western Force
Brumbies
Brumbies
Melbourne Rebels
NSW Waratahs
Melbourne Rebels
NSW Waratahs
Queensland Reds
Brumbies
Queensland Reds
Brumbies

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Monday 10th June 2013

Combined Country 2013 LionsTHE 23-man Combined Country line-up to face the British & Irish Lions on Tuesday will be captained by the Melbourne Rebels No.8, Tim Davidson announced coach, Cam Blades.

Blades, a former Wallaby prop who won his only cap for Australia against England in 1997, played for NSW Waratahs and Glasgow in his career before coaching Fiji and now Sydney’s Southern Districts. The front rower has first hand experience of taking on tomorrow’s opposition having played against the Lions in 2001 for Australia A and the Waratahs.

Combined Country LionsFrom Newcastle’s Wanderers Rugby Club, Lewie Catt is the only NSW Country Rugby player in the Combined Country starting XV, stepping up alongside eight Super Rugby players, two Queensland Country players and four Sydney Premier Rugby players.

There have been two changes from the 23-man squad named on 1 June with Queensland Reds star, Beau Robinson ruled out following a head clash during last Saturday night’s match between the Reds and the British & Irish Lions.

Fans are being encouraged to dress in the Combined Country colours, blue, orange and black to show their support and counteract the Red of the Lions fans.

The game will provide a unique showcase of Australian Country Rugby during the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour giving the players a rare and exclusive opportunity to face the British & Irish Lions who only Tour Australia once every twelve years.

Tickets are available to the Combined Country v British & Irish Lions Tour game at Hunter Stadium, Newcastle via Proticket.

Click here for the full team details...

Combined Country vs Lions

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Sunday 9th June 2013

LION'S WEEKLY ROUND UP: PERTH & BRISBANE

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SPYGATE!

Sunday 9th June 2013

British LionsaustraliaAS is the case with every tour, a side show has taken over proceedings this weekend now that the rugby’s done. A mystery cameraman was shooed away from British & Irish Lions training in Perth earlier in the week caught filming the tourists. Turns out he was just a wedding planner filming the venue!

Allegations of ‘Spygate’ have been made in the press, but Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland has denied any such nonsense, and had the media in giggles at today’s press conference, caught on camera by Rugby Media’s Nick Heath...

 

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Sunday 9th June 2013

British LionsTHE British & Irish Lions have announced the team to play the Combined Country at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle on Tuesday.

The fourth match of the tour will see 2009 centre pairing Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts re-united. They played four times during the tour to South Africa including the 1st and 2nd Tests.

O’Driscoll will captain the Lions for the second time on tour, while replacement props Alex Corbisiero and Ryan Grant will make their first Lions appearances after joining the squad on Saturday.

British & Irish Lions Tour Manager Andy Irvine said: “There is no doubt that the Combined Country players match will regard the game as their cup final. But we are getting stronger each week, combinations are starting to take shape and we will be determined to head for Sydney with another sound win.”

Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “This team to play Country includes three players - Richie Gray, Alex Cuthbert and Stuart Hogg - who are starting their second game in a row plus Simon Zebo Irelandanother George North who came off the bench early against the Reds. This is the nature of Lions tours as we adapt to injuries and playing twice a week.”

Ireland's Simon Zebo will join the British & Irish Lions as cover for Tommy Bowe. Zebo will fly from Houston, Texas this evening and arrive in Sydney on Tuesday morning, meeting up with the squad in Newcastle ahead of the game against Combined Country.

Click here for the full squad to face Combined Country...

Combined Country vs Lions

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Sunday 9th June 2013

australiaTHOUGH the official announcement of the final six joining the Qantas Wallabies squad for the upcoming tests is not due until Tuesday, the extended squad gathered today at Caloundra, Queensland with six additions. Wallabies Quade Cooper Kurtley BealeRobbie Deans, the Wallabies coach confirmed Melbourne Rebels full back, Kurtley Beale will be in the Test squad, having come through a rehab for alcohol related issues. Also present in camp are Brumbies centre Pat McCabe, scrum half Luke Burgess, back rower Peter Kimlin and prop Scott Sio.

Despite an impressive performance as captain of the Queensland Reds, full back Quade Cooper is not included.

"We've obviously not included him (Cooper) in the additional six at this stage, but as you've seen (with injuries), things happen quickly," said Deans.

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Saturday 8th June 2013

British LionsGethin Jenkins British Lions 2013MORE injury woes befell the British & Irish Lions today, starting the day with Gethin Jenkins being ruled out of the remainder of the tour, expected to be on the same plane home as Cian Healy. British & Irish Lions Head Doctor James Robson said: “The expected time for recovery is at least three weeks and given the remaining duration of the tour we felt that Gethin should return home and continue his rehabilitation there.”

The exciting match against the Queensland Reds then saw Manu Tuilagi replaced with a shoulder injury before the second quarter had even begun.  Though at the post-match presser Head Coach Warren Gatland confirmed that he "is fine - just a stinger which is getting better already."

Tommy Bowe British Lions 2013Ireland’s Tommy Bowe was replaced by Johnny Sexton as he went off just after half time with a hand injury, which will need surgery. A later scan showed a bone fracture, ending his tour. Even Johnny did not escape, but Gatland reported “Johnny also had a scan on his hamstring after the game against the Reds and it showed there was no tear. He was just a little bit tight.”

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Friday 7th June 2013

British LionsTHE British & Irish Lions are weathering a slight crisis in the front row department early in the  2013 Tour.

First it was England hooker Dylan Hartley who had to be replaced even before anyone had got on a flight to Hong Kong after he was banned for swearing at the referee, Wayne Barnes, in the Aviva Premiership Final. He was replaced by Ireland’s Rory Best who was due to captain his nation on their summer tour to North America. Next up, following Cian Healy’s ankle injury during the first Australian match against Western Force, England prop Alex Corbisiero was drafted into the Lions squad from his Argentina Tour.

Ryan Grant Scottish RugbyThe latest casualty is Wales prop Gethin Jenkins, who is yet to feature in a Lions match with number three on the horizon tomorrow. Originally named in the starting line up for the game against Queensland Reds, a continuing calf tweak has led the Lions management to bump England’s Mako Vunipola to No. 1 loosehead prop, despite sporting only 9 full international caps. As a precaution, Scotland and Glasgow Warriors’ Ryan Grant has been summoned to Australia as cover from Durban.

“Gethin has trained all week but he felt some tightness in his calf today so it’s right not to play him. We will assess him over the next 24-48 hours but Mako has done well in the last two games and this is another chance for him to step up,” said Lions Head Coach, Warren Gatland.

“Given Cian’s injury we have decided to bring Ryan in. He has played well in the RaboDirect Pro 12 this season and for Scotland in the RBS Six Nations and we look forward to him and Alex Corbisiero arriving tomorrow.”

Click here for the revised British Lions team line up...

Queensland Reds vs Lions

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Friday 7th June 2013

Will Genia WallabiesTHE Lions rumour mill continues to run rife across the globe after a twitter story broke claiming Qantas Wallabies and Queensland Reds devastating scrum half, Will Genia had broken his ankle in training this morning after a collision with Adam Ashley-Cooper. But all panic was allayed after the official Wallabies twitter account let Green & Gold Rugby CEO, Matt Rowley know it was all utter tosh...

Wallabies Will Genia Rumour

Jonny Wilkinson Lions 2005Meanwhile, we are finally happy to talk about the legendary Jonny Wilkinson as a news story. Despite the media whooping up stories of the inimitable fly half joining the Lions Tour as a late call up since before the Tour squad was even announced, we can categorically say he will not be gracing any paddock in a Lions shirt during the 2013 to earn a 7th Lions cap.

In an interview with ESPN, Jonny said: "I had to go in for a procedure on my groin on Monday that is going to keep me out for a few weeks. I'd got to a stage where I wasn't able to train anymore and was going from game to game and was suffering on the field because of that. We've also just finished a 48-week season and now I'm looking forward to the other four weeks and trying to rest up so I can do it all again next season."

Right then, now can we move on?

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Friday 7th June 2013

Cian Healy British Lions 2013FOLLOWING a lengthy two and a half hour hearing, British & Irish Lion Cian Healy was found not guilty of Acts contrary to good sportsmanship. The accusation was made by Western Force scrum half Brett Sheehan at half time in the Force vs Lions match on Wednesday, and subsequently admitted he did not know if it was deliberate, nor could the TMO find any video evidence post-match. Despite this, the hearing was called.

“There is no conclusive video evidence of the incident and post-match it was not possible to distinguish any discernible bite marks outside of the ‘regular’ marks usually found following a Rugby match,” Judicial Officer, Nigel Hampton QC said in his findings.

Healy said following the hearing, “I am very relieved that the hearing has cleared me of such an allegation. I was naturally very disappointed that there was a citing in the first place. I always maintained that nothing happened and that I had done nothing illegal. The opposition player’s arm hit me. It is as simple as that.”

However, good news for Healy was promptly followed by bad after another scan on his ankle which revealed the injury means the end of his Lions Tour. British & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “Our thoughts are with Cian. It has been a day of mixed emotions for him after being quite rightly being cleared of foul play but then the scan revealing the extent of the damage to his ankle. He has made a big contribution on and off the field in the last two weeks and we wish him well in his recovery.” Healy will now return home to Ireland.

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Thursday 6th June 2013

RedsTHE St.George Queensland Reds have announced a strong 23-man line-up for their historic tour match against The British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Despite being without 7 current Wallaby squad members, the Reds team still boasts plenty of international strikepower with 9 capped Wallabies chosen in the starting line-up, including Quade Cooper,  and a further 3 on the bench.

Their experience combines for a total of 127 Australian caps while each member of the starting team for Saturday’s blockbuster clash has also commenced a Super Rugby match for the Queensland Reds in 2013.

Ewen McKenzie Queensland Reds

In complete contrast to Western Force coach, Michael Foley, Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie said, “Playing against The British & Irish Lions is a once in a career type opportunity, so to be running out in front of a sold-out Suncorp Stadium crowd on Saturday night will be an experience these 23 players will never forget.”

“Our approach was always going to be to field as strong a line-up as possible and I’ve got every confidence in the group we’ve chosen to go out and compete against a very talented Lions squad.”

The Reds will on Saturday be aiming to become the first Australian provincial team to beat The British & Irish Lions in a tour-game since Queensland famously defeated their rivals 15-11 in their opening tour game of 1971. The loss was only one of two experienced by The British & Irish Lions during their 26-game 1971 tour with the All Blacks also successful in their second Test match as part of a four-game series.

The British & Irish Lions rebounded against Queensland twice in 1989 (19-15 v Queensland and 30-6 v Queensland B) before also recording two victories in 2001 (42-8 v Queensland and 83-6 v Queensland President’s XV).

“We’ve spoken as a group about the significance of these opportunities and there isn’t a player out there who wouldn’t want to replicate the heroics of the 1971 Queensland side,” McKenzie said.

Click here for the full Queensland Reds line up...

Queensland Reds vs Lions

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Wednesday 5th June 2013

British LionsFOLLOWING the expected 69-17 routing of a weak Western Force opposition, Lions prop Cian Healy has suffered two serious blows to his tour hopes with injury and a citing.

Alex Corbisiero England RugbyHealy was stretchered off the field at the Subiaco Oval this afternoon, and as a precaution, England prop, Alex Corbisiero has been called up as an immediate replacement. British & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said: "Cian has had an X-ray and, while his left ankle is not broken, he will be assessed further when we get to Brisbane. In the meantime we need to get Alex over here as soon as possible and I am thankful to Stuart Lancaster for letting him go so quickly."

Corbisiero, currently on tour with England Rugby in Argentina, has himself recently returned to rugby having been blighted with an injury following the Rugby World Cup 2011. He returned to action for a short while before a knee injury flared up, and he played only three matches for London Irish last season, though appeared in the Autumn Internationals.

“We’re delighted for Alex,” said England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster.

“It’s very pleasing for him after he missed the Six Nations through injury and he goes with our full support and blessing. All the England players and management couldn’t be more pleased for him to get this opportunity.”

Cian Healy British Lions 2013Meanwhile, back in Australia, Healy has been cited in the opening match of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour for biting the arm of Western Force scrumhalf, Brett Sheehan, under Law 10.4.m Acts contrary to good sportsmanship. Though there was no evidence found by TMO Glenn Newman at the time, match commissioner Freek Burger later decided there was a case to answer. Healy will appear at a judicial hearing on Thursday 6th June at the Sofitel Hotel, Brisbane at 7:30pm AEST. If found guilty, the minimum entry point of any disciplinary action is 12 weeks with a maximum of 4 years.

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Wednesday 5th June 2013

australiaQANTAS WALLABIES have suffered a blow to their 2013 squad as Melbourne Rebels loose forward Scott Higginbotham is out of rugby for the rest of the year.

Scott Higginbotham WallabiesHigginbotham, who has played 23 Tests since his debut against France on the 2010 Spring Tour, dislocated his right shoulder making a tackle during last Saturday night’s 20-33 loss to the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The injury was allowed to settle for a few days, and he was assessed by the Wallabies medical staff in Sydney on Monday, but scans revealed extensive ligament damage, which meant a full shoulder reconstruction is required.

Higginbotham has returned to Melbourne where he will undergo the surgery. The rehabilitation timelines are such that he is not expected to be fit to return to play until the start of next year’s Super Rugby competition.

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Wednesday 5th June 2013

LIONS host nation broadcasters, Fox Sports are definitely getting into the spirit of the tour with an hilarious message to Aussies around the globe...

It's our duty to #GetRidOfRed

 "Thousands of British and Irish tourists are invading Australian shores, determined to paint the country red. 2001 was a tough lesson to learn as the Lions ambushed us on and off the field in Brisbane. 12 years on, we're taking a stand."

Its on Green and Gold

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Tuesday 4th June 2013

ForceWESTERN FORCE have named a woefully under par team to face the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday in Perth, featuring only two players having started in the franchise’s last Super Rugby match, and seven uncapped players.

Michael Foley Western ForceThe Force also take on the NSW Waratahs on Sunday, and head coach Michael Foley, who previously coached in the Aviva Premiership at Bath Rugby, has said,

“From the outset we recognised the need to approach this week as an entire squad. To that end, every available member of our squad, a number from our wider training group, and club players from Perth and elsewhere will get opportunities against the Lions and Waratahs.”

Foley claims the Lions have opted for “quantity over quality”, implying the Hong Kong match against the Barbarians could have been cancelled to accommodate the Force instead, who last weekend had a bye in the Super Rugby championship. This from a team who have known for at least four years the Lions were coming, and have managed to win a monumental 3 matches of 14 in the southern hemisphere tournament.

Despite the disrespect being shown to the globally renowned Lions Tour, Foley argued,

"We've had to juggle our squad across two games and pick a number of experienced senior players against the Lions. We think this is the best team for this game in light of the fixture list we've been given."

The world is expecting a whitewash at the Subiaco Oval.

Click here for the match details...

Week 2

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Monday 3rd June 2013

LION'S WEEKLY ROUND UP: HONG KONG

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Monday 3rd June 2013

British LionsBRIAN O’DRISCOLL will lead the British & Irish Lions out in Perth on Wednesday as they take on their first Australian opposition, Western Force.

Brian ODriscoll LionsThe Irishman appears in his fourth Lions Tour, debuting at The Gabba, Brisbane in 2001 in the first Test with a spectacular try, shortlived in 2005 after the Lions captain was unceremoniously spear-tackled by All Blacks Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu in the opening moments of the first test in Christchurch, dislocating his shoulder while the culprits got off scot free. In 2009 O’Driscoll captained the mid-week match against the Golden Lions in South Africa, but missed the final test against the Springboks after suffering concussion in Pretoria.

The first match on Australian soil features none of the starting XV from Saturday’s match in Hong Kong, while Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola and Sean Maitland named on the bench. Manu Tuilagi, Sean O'Brien, Ian Evans, Dan Cole and Rory Best will make their Lions debuts. Sam Warburton remains elusive from the team sheet for a second match with a knee injury, though Head Coach Warren Gatland has said he expects him to start on Saturday against the Queensland Reds.

The only casualty from the Hong Kong match is Rob Kearney who suffered a grade one hamstring tear.

Team line ups for the British Lions match v Force:

Week 2

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Sunday 2nd June 2013

BarbariansSchalk Brits YC Barbarians v British LionsSPRINGBOK and Saracens hooker, Schalk Brits landed a 3 week ban on Sunday at an IRB Disciplinary Panel after Citing Commissioner Simon Ryan (Japan) reported him for striking Sarries teammate, Owen Farrell with his arm contrary to Law 10.4 (a) in the Lions v Barbarians FC match in Hong Kong on Saturday, for which he received a yellow card from referee Steve Walsh.

Consequently, Brits is suspended from all rugby up to and including the third Aviva Premiership match of the 2013-14 season, unless the Judicial Officer confirms in writing that any pre-season match shall be considered meaningful for the purpose of regulation 17.19.11 (d) in which case such match shall be included as one of the 3 matches.

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LIONS IN FOR A SHOO-IN AFTER BAABAAS BREAK BAN

Saturday 1st June 2013

BarbariansAFTER the embarrassing 40-17 defeat to a novice England side at Twickenham last weekend, the infamous Barbarians decided a self-imposed booze ban was the way forward if they were to reclaim any dignity against the British & Irish Lions in Hong Kong today. Rugby Unplugged even teased them in jest via Twitter, but a resounding denial returned...

Barbarians tweet at Rugby Unplugged

However, only the same day at the races, Saracens hooker Schalk Brits, and both locks Wasps’ Marco Wentzel and Montpellier’s Jim Hamilton were busy tweeting photos of the libations they were partaking in at the races.

Barbarians drinking ban

The legendary Lions may have an easier ride than expected, though the expected 36˚ temperature and potentially 90% humidity will not do either side any favours. The 2013 Lions Tour kicks off at 19.30 local time today.

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Saturday 1st June 2013

Combined Country LionsCOMBINED COUNTRY coach Cam Blades has announced his 23-man squad for the British & Irish Lions Tour match in Newcastle on Tuesday 11 June.

A total of 10 Super Rugby players have been named in the squad alongside four Premier Club Rugby players, five Queensland Country players, and four NSW Country players.   

With the squad decided, focus now turns to preparing for the match against the Lions at Hunter Stadium with the squad coming together in camp in Newcastle on Thursday 6 June.

“The challenge isn’t just to make the team, the challenge is to take on the Lions and see where we can take it,” Blades said.

“What the Lions can expect is a bunch of blokes who are going to come together with a common goal of absolutely taking the game to them.

“We’ll certainly be going in there to display our skillset while being mindful of trying to shut down a lot of the threats that the Lions possess and give ourselves the opportunity to play a bit of Rugby and see if we can pull off an historic win.”

Blades believes the game between Combined Country and Rugby’s best from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as part of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour, provides a rare chance to showcase Australian Country Rugby.

Tickets to the highly anticipated DHL Australia 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour match between Combined Country and the Lions are still available from Proticket.

A family of four will able to see one of the world's most iconic sporting teams taking on the best of Australian Country Rugby for just AU$30.

NAME

POSITION

TEAM

Rikki Abraham
Dale Ah-Wong
Phoenix Battye
Jarrad Butler
Lewie Catt
Tom Cox
Tim Davidson
Trent Dyer
Blake Enever
Dylan Evans
Alex Gibbon
Ben Greentree
Haydn Hirsimaki
Tom Kearney
Josh Mann-Rae
Adam McCormack
Tim Metcher
Angus Roberts
Beau Robinson
Tereta-Junior Siakisini
Michael Snowden
Richard Stanford
Nathan Trist

Prop
Wing
Lock
Back Row
Centre
Wing
Back Row
Back Row
Lock
Prop
Centre/Wing
Centre
Prop
Hooker
Hooker
Halfback
Prop
Flyhalf/Fullback
Back Row
Centre
Halfback
Lock
Fullback/Wing

QLD Country
QLD Country
Force - Super Rugby
Reds - Super Rugby
NSW Country
Brumbies - Super Rugby
Rebels - Super Rugby
Rebels - Super Rugby
Reds - Super Rugby
NSW Country
Premier Rugby - Southern Districts
NSW Country
QLD Country
QLD Country
Brumbies - Super Rugby
NSW Country
Premier Rugby - Southern Districts
Rebels - Super Rugby
Reds - Super Rugby
QLD Country
Force - Super Rugby
Premier Rugby - Eastern Suburbs
Premier Rugby - Sydney University

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Friday 31st May 2013

Lions Legend Gareth Edwards talks tour with Brian O'Driscoll

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Friday 31st May 2013

British LionsIT is finally that time again to hear the Lions roar as the British and Irish Lions go back on tour to take on the elusive Aussies. After much disappointment and heartache from the 2009 series in South Africa, the feisty new pack of Lions are looking to win their first series since 1997, and bag themselves a Southern Hemisphere scalp in the process.

 

When the Lions last took on Australia back in 2001, they got off to a promising start by beating the green and gold men 13-29. However, the two following tests against the formidable side did not follow the same winning pattern, leading to the Lions losing the series 2-1.

Not ones to parade around with their tails between their legs, the new-look Lions are keen to show how loud they can roar. The team, specially selected by super Kiwi Warren Gatland, is on a mission to return to their former glory days and they hope that their young guns will bring back the wins, and the pride.

But before the snarling Lions take on the tenacious Aussies, they have the small job of battling the Barbarians this Saturday in Hong Kong. If England’s victory last weekend is anything to go by, this should be an easy feat for the talented and ruthless Lions pack. However, the wounded Barbarians will be looking for revenge and they will not give up without a fight.

Members of the 2013 squad with the giant Lions shirt in HK

After taking on the enigmatic Barbarians, the Lions will face their first contenders down under: Emirates Western Force. In this Aussie opener, the Lions will be baying for a thunderous start and hoping to detonate their explosive backs against the second from bottom side in the Super Rugby competition.

Following on from their first match in Australia, the Lions will go onto play the 130 year old club, the Queensland Reds, who should be tougher competition for the British and Irish players.

Next stop on the tour agenda will be the combined NSW- QLD Country at the Hunter Stadium. This fixture will be tricky as the team will be made up of the best regional players from Queensland and New South Wales, and it will be difficult to pinpoint who will be the toughest opponents within the side. However, being a combined side, players will not have played much together beforehand and the match could be a rerun of the Barbarians V England game.

Sam Warburton and Andy Irvine rubbing the Lions pawAs the tour reaches its midpoint, the Lions will take on one of the top sides in the Super Rugby league: the Brumbies. This game should be a great foreshadowing of what will happen against the Qantas Wallabies (Australia) in the Lions’ next game.

On Saturday the 22nd June, the prepared Lions will take on their main Australian rivals and put their best foot forward in a bid to win their first series game, and follow in the footsteps of their 2001 predecessors.

After the first series match, the Lions will face then face the less dangerous, Melbourne Rebels, before taking on the Wallabies for the final two matches of the series.

With the fixtures and Gatland’s plans laid out, will the Aussies be ripped to shreds by the carnivorous Lions, or will the Wallabies kick back and reign supreme? Follow Rugby Unplugged for all the games and the latest tour news…. Rugby Unplugged on Facebook & Rugby Unplugged on Twitter

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Sunday 19th May 2013

AustraliaTHREE uncapped players have been included among the 25 named today in the preliminary Qantas Wallabies squad for next month’s DHL British & Irish Lions series.

NSW Waratahs fullback Israel Folau and the Brumbies pair of loose forward and skipper Ben Mowen and inside centre Christian Leali’ifano have all been included in the group, which will assemble in Sydney on the evening of Sunday June 2 to begin preparations for the once-in-12-years series.

Robbie Deans Wallabies CoachQantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says the selection reflected both current Super Rugby form and previous Test background.

He stressed the importance of the three-week preparation the core of the Test side will have prior to the first Test of the DHL series in Brisbane on June 22.

A further six players will be added to the group once Super Rugby breaks for the mid-year Test window on June 10, with the final Qantas Wallabies squad of 31 to be named during the team’s second week together on Tuesday June 11.

A captain will also be named when the squad is finalised.

As well as the uncapped players, the preliminary squad is notable for the inclusions of Queensland Reds lock James Horwill and Melbourne Rebels flyhalf James O’Connor, who both missed all of the 2012 Test season due to injury.

Joe Tomane, who made his Test debut in the opening game of last year but was then rubbed out for the rest of 2012 after injuring his ankle at training prior to the first game of the Wales series, also returns.

NSW Waratahs inside centre Rob Horne and Queensland Reds halfback Will Genia are others who re-enter after missing the back end of last year due to season-ending injuries sustained during the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.

Nick Cummins, who is the sole representative from the Western Force, is also a recent returnee to Super Rugby after having had a delayed start due to injury.

Australia QANTAS WALLABIES PRELIMINARY SQUAD

Ben Alexander (Brumbies, 48)
Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs, 77)
Berrick Barnes (Waratahs, 50)
Nick Cummins (Western Force, 6)
Dave Dennis (Waratahs, 15)
Saia Fainga’a (Reds, 18)
Israel Folau (Waratahs*)
Will Genia (Reds, 41)
Liam Gill (Reds, 8)
Scott Higginbotham (Reds, 23)
Michael Hooper (Waratahs, 13)
Rob Horne (Waratahs, 14)
James Horwill (Reds, 35)

Digby Ioane (Reds, 34)
Sekope Kepu (Waratahs, 23)
Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies*)
Stephen Moore (Brumbies, 76)
Ben Mowen (Brumbies*)
James O’Connor (Rebels, 37)
Wycliff Palu (Waratahs, 46)
Benn Robinson (Waratahs, 56)
Rob Simmons (Reds, 23)
James Slipper (Reds, 34)
Sitaleki Timani (Waratahs, 10)
Joe Tomane (Brumbies, 1)

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