2013 British & Irish Lions
Wallabies to be rested ahead of Lions series
February 28, 2013
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will gather his players for a three-week camp ahead of their eagerly awaited series against the British & Irish Lions © Getty Images
The Australian Rugby Union has confirmed that the Wallabies will go into camp three weeks before their eagerly-awaited series against the British & Irish Lions this year.
Australia coach Robbie Deans has previously stressed the need for a dedicated window to prepare his players but their Super Rugby employers had hoped their players would be available for their own clashes with the elite tourists in the build-up to the Test series that kicks off at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on June 22.
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver has announced that a squad of 25 players will gather on June 2 to ready themselves for "their once in a lifetime opportunity" but certain players may yet be released for Super Rugby duty with two potentially key all-Australian derbies scheduled to take place during the same period. "If those Super Rugby matches have significant bearing on the competition standings, and finals spots are at stake, ARU will take that under serious consideration," Pulver said in a statement.
The three-week preparation window is a similar approach to 2001 when Wallabies players missed games between the Waratahs and Brumbies against the Lions. All Blacks and Springboks Test players were also unavailable for provincial games during the Lions tours to New Zealand and South Africa in 2005 and 2009 respectively.
"There is no doubt from an Australian Rugby perspective that when the Lions come to Australia for their nine-match tour from 5 June to 6 July the primary objective is for the Qantas Wallabies to win the three-Test series and preparation is crucial," said Pulver.
"The Lions will be battle hardened, make no mistake. Their players are currently involved in the Six Nations Championship in Europe. They will also have a match in Hong Kong en route to Australia and five lead-up games to the first Test.
"A tour of this magnitude, featuring nine matches, provides the opportunity to expose a wide group of players across the country to international Rugby. That is great for the players, and the game in Australia."
The initial 25-man Wallabies squad will have additional players added on June 10, following the Brumbies v Rebels (June 7) and Waratahs v Force (June 9) games.
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