No surprise as Robbie Deans excludes Quade Cooper from Wallabies squad to face Lions

Queensland outhalf not included in six squad additions announced

Robbie Deans cannot be accused of not giving Quade Cooper his chances over the course of his six-year reign. But once Cooper compounded his misfiring World Cup with his self-imposed exile from the Wallabies last year amid his claims of the "toxic" atmosphere in the squad, it was always likely he would miss the cut for this year's Lions series.

The series will be the poorer without Cooper, but it all conspires to make last Saturday’s minor epic in Brisbane appear even more of a one-off.

Cooper fought the law and the law won and continuing the maverick theme, The Australian newspaper reported a Sunday night incident in which an "inebriated" Cooper was refused re-admission to the hotel where he was drinking with friends before being heckled and doused with lager by fans who were themselves removed from the promises.

Never going to go quietly
Well, he was never going to go quietly into the night.

All week Cooper had conducted himself with class right up to and immediately after the Reds’ brazen attempt to hit the Lions with a whirlwind storm, with Cooper as captain for the first time and inspiration in chief.

He had batted away questions about his Wallabies’ aspirations by stressing his focus on the job in hand at Friday’s eve of match press conference in which, nonetheless, he referred to the Wallabies by name but once.

After adopting the same diplomatic if defiant tone in the post-match press conference – when stressing his pride in the Reds’ performance – he hinted to a small cluster of Australian journalists the pressure he felt under due to almost weekly auditions since he was initially excluded from the Wallabies’ 25-man training squad.

Cooper’s continuing exclusion from Deans’ plans was duly confirmed by the formal naming of six additions to the Wallabies’ squad yesterday.

Former Wallabies coach John Connolly labelled the decision "a disgrace", adding: "That's astounding. I thought for certain Deans would have no choice after the Reds-Lions match on Saturday night but to include him. It really is a disgrace. I thought in the Lions match Quade was the one threat that gave the Reds a chance."

Although Deans held out an olive branch – “We’ve obviously not included him (Cooper) in the additional six at this stage but as you’ve seen (with injuries) things can happen quickly” – the coach has decided if he is going to go down he is going to do so on his terms.

By contrast, Deans has made a statement of trust in the troubled Kurtley Beale, who was apparently running at outhalf in training last week and will either start there in the first Test, or dovetail with James O'Connor in the number 10 jersey, from fullback.

Of the other five additions, the most relevant is the hard-tackling, straight-running inside centre Pat McCabe. Digby Ioane's inclusion suggests he may yet be fit by the second Test, if not the first, after knee surgery, while Hugh McMeniman, Peter Kimlin and Scott Sio will most likely provide cover.
AUSTRALIA (Squad for Lions series): B Alexander (Brumbies), A Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), B Barnes (Waratahs), K Beale (Rebels), N Cummins (Force), D Dennis (Waratahs), K Douglas (Waratahs), S Fainga'a (Reds), I Folau (Waratahs), W Genia (Reds), L Gill (Reds), M Hooper (Waratahs), R Horne (Waratahs), J Horwill (Reds), D Ioane (Reds), S Kepu (Waratahs), P Kimlin (Brumbies), C Leali'ifano (Brumbies), P McCabe (Brumbies), B McCalman (Force), H McMeniman (Force), S Moore (Brumbies), B Mowen (Brumbies), J O'Connor (Rebels), W Palu (Waratahs), N Phipps (Rebels), B Robinson (Waratahs), R Simmons (Reds), S Sio (Brumbies), J Slipper (Reds), J Tomane (Brumbies).