Early gathering for Wallabies

by Michelle Fortune , 28 February 2013

Australia will go into camp three weeks before the start of their three-match series against the British & Irish Lions.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has previously stressed the need for the players to come together in plenty of time to ensure adequate preparation before the June 22 opener at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Deans feared Super Rugby clubs would want to hold on to their players, but the Australian Rugby Union has confirmed the 25-man squad will assemble on June 2 a full three weeks before the opening test against the Lions.

While some players may be released for Super Rugby commitments, ARU chief executive Bill Pulver believes the early get together will benefit the squad as they prepare for a "once in a lifetime opportunity".

"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."

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