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Israel Folau not on Wallabies radar - for now


Jim Morton

Code-hopper ... Israel Folau at NSW Waratahs training last year.

Code-hopper ... Israel Folau at NSW Waratahs training last year. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Former Wallabies forward Hugh McMeniman is on the radar for an immediate Test return against the British and Irish Lions after being included in Australia's early-year preparations.

But code-hopper Israel Folau may be further away than he'd hoped after being left out of a logistics camp involving 49 of the country's top players.

Just months after returning from a three-year stint in Japan, McMeniman was among players who assembled in Sydney on Monday for the camp which sees them outfitted, photographed and involved in promotional work for the season ahead.

Hugh McMeniman

Hugh McMeniman

While virtually all of last year's 42 Test players were involved, there were notable exclusions on top of league international Folau, who will make his rugby debut for the NSW Waratahs next month.

Brumbies captain Ben Mowen and Waratahs winger Lachie Turner were both overlooked while veteran Queensland forward Radike Samo and Western Force halfback Brett Sheehan, both Test players late last season, also stayed at home.

A surprise invite went to Melbourne Rebels centre Mitch Inman.

But he wasn't the only uncapped player with Reds flanker Jake Schatz, utility back Ben Lucas, Rebels locks Hugh Pyle and Cadeyrn Neville, and Brumbies halves Nic White and Christian Lealiifano also involved.

A Wallabies spokesman played down the significance of the prospective squad.

"It doesn't guarantee them anything," he said.

"If you're not here it doesn't mean you're not a Wallaby this year - it comes down to what you do on the field.

"There's nothing to stop Israel Folau going out there and playing the house down to make the team."

While he faces massive competition to earn a starting spot in the NSW backline, Folau has said he'd love to make his Wallabies debut in the three-Test series against the Lions in June-July.

The logistics camp emulates what the All Blacks have done in recent seasons to save time on administration duties before the Test season but it also shows which players are at the front of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans' mind heading into the Super Rugby season.

McMeniman, a destructive lock or blindside flanker, played the last of his 21 Tests for Australia in Deans' first year in charge in 2008 and was preferred ahead of Nathan Sharpe in the second row.

Renowned for his aggression, the injury-plagued Queenslander took up a lucrative deal with Kubota at the end of 2009 but will now resume his Super career with the Western Force at 29.

Of the 49 players involved, the Reds provided 16, NSW 13, the Brumbies and Rebels eight each, and the Force four.

The ARU assembled 49 players in Sydney for a logistics and administration camp ahead of the 2013 Test season.

Queensland Reds (16): Saia Faingaa, James Hanson, James Slipper, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Will Genia, Ben Lucas, Quade Cooper, Ben Tapaui, Anthony Faingaa, Mike Harris, Dom Shipperley, Digby Ioane, Luke Morahan.

NSW Waratahs (13): Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu, Berrick Barnes, Rob Horne, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell.

Brumbies (8): Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dan Palmer, David Pocock, Nic White, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe, Joe Tomane.

Melbourne Rebels (8): Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Mitch Inman, Cooper Vuna.

Western Force (4): Salesi Ma'afu, Hugh McMeniman, Ben McCalman, Nick Cummins.


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