Israel Folau moving closer to Wallaby cap
Israel Folau is a step closer to becoming a dual international after being included in a 30-man Wallabies camp to prepare for the blockbuster British and Irish Lions series.
But Folau's NSW Waratah teammates Sekope Kepu and Drew Mitchell have joined the likes of Quade Cooper and Nick Phipps on the outside as coach Robbie Deans invited seven uncapped players to the two-day camp in Sydney.
The Brumbies have been rewarded for the ACT side's strong start to the Super Rugby season with 11 players named, including six yet to play Test rugby - headed by bolter prop Scott Sio. Sio only made his Super Rugby starting debut in the past month but appears to have pushed regular Wallabies front-rower Kepu out of the current reckoning. No.8 Fotu Auelua, back-rower Ben Mowen, halfback Nic White, playmaker Christian Leali'ifano and fullback Jesse Mogg are the other uncapped Brumbies involved.
Deans said selection exclusion did not rule players out of participation in the three-Test Lions series, adding a ''wide net'' had been spread through the three logistics camps in the past three months. Fifty players attended the first in January, while 30 gathered at the second two-day assembly in February, but Sio, Auelua, Mowen and Mogg weren't even on Deans' extended radar at the start of the year.
Despite their rocky start to 2013, the Waratahs boast 10 players, while Queensland seven, and the Melbourne Rebels two.
Former league international and AFL flop Folau, who has impressed in his improvement at fullback for NSW, will be joined by fellow Waratah backs Adam Ashley-Cooper and the sidelined Berrick Barnes. Deans will select his top 25 players for the Lions series on May 19, who will enter Wallabies camp on June 3.
He said the last camp would allow players to complete pre-tour commercial obligations, as well as take part in specific rugby-related planning.
Wallabies camp squad: Jesse Mogg (Brumbies), Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs), Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds), Joe Tomane (Brumbies), Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), Ben Tapuai (Queensland Reds), Pat McCabe (Brumbies), Christian Leali'ifano (Brumbies), Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs), James O'Connor (Melbourne Rebels), Nic White (Brumbies), Will Genia (Queensland Reds), Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs), Fotu Auelua (Brumbies), Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs), Liam Gill (Queensland Reds), Dave Dennis (NSW Waratahs), Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels), Ben Mowen (Brumbies), Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds), James Horwill (Queensland Reds), Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs), Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs), Dan Palmer (Brumbies), James Slipper (Queensland Reds), Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs), Scott Sio (Brumbies), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota Nau (NSW Waratahs).