Australia will pull Wallabies squad members out of Super Rugby to give them three weeks to prepare for this year’s Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
A squad of 25 will go into camp from June 2 ahead of the series-opening Test in Brisbane on June 20, the Australian Rugby Union said today. The nominated players will also be unavailable for their Super Rugby teams’ matches against the Lions in the leadup to the best-of-three contest.
“The primary objective is for the Wallabies to win the three-Test series and preparation is crucial,” ARU Chief Executive Officer Bill Pulver said in an e-mailed statement. “The Lions will be battle hardened, make no mistake.”
The Lions, a combined team from the U.K. and Ireland that tours every four years, last visited Australia in 2001, when the Wallabies secured a 2-1 victory. The Lions haven’t won a Test series since beating South Africa in 1997.
The Lions will play all five Australian Super Rugby teams during their 10-game trip, which opens June 1 against the Barbarians in Hong Kong. Their first match in Australia is June 5 against the Western Force in Perth.
Wallabies whose teams are involved in the Super Rugby games between the ACT Brumbies and Queensland Reds on June 7 and the New South Wales Waratahs against the Force two days later may be released to play, Pulver said.
“If those Super Rugby matches have significant bearing on the competition standings, and finals spots are at stake, the ARU will take that under serious consideration,” he added.
The initial 25-man Wallabies squad will have additional players added June 10 following those two matches, the ARU said.