Lions 2013: Israel Folau one of three Australia squad newcomers

Former rugby league star Israel Folau is one of three uncapped players in Australia's initial 25-man squad to face the British and Irish Lions.

Folau has made just 12 Super 15 appearances for the Waratahs since switching from Australian Rules.

The other newcomers are Brumbies captain Ben Mowen and centre Christian Lealiifano but there is no place for fly-half Quade Cooper.

A further six players will be added to the squad on 11 June.

Experienced Brumbies flanker George Smith (knee) and Waratahs hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (fractured arm) both miss out after suffering injuries on Saturday.

The three-Test series begins on Saturday 22 June in Brisbane, followed by games on 29 June (Melbourne) and 6 July (Sydney).

Lions down under 2013

  • Sat 1 June v Barbarians, Hong Kong
  • Wed 5 June v Western Force, Perth
  • Sat 8 June, Queensland Reds, Brisbane
  • Tue 11 June, Combined NSW-Queensland, Newcastle
  • Sat 15 June, NSW Waratahs, Sydney
  • Tue 18 June, ACT Brumbies, Canberra
  • Sat 22 June v Australia, Brisbane
  • Tue 25 June, v Melbourne Rebels, Melbourne
  • Sat 29 June, v Australia, Melbourne
  • Sat 6 July, v Australia, Sydney

The absence of Smith and Polota-Nau presents opportunities to Queensland Reds duo Liam Gill and Saia Fainga'a while there is no room for Kurtley Beale, who is currently out of rugby indefinitely to go into rehabilitation for alcohol and personal issues.

Cooper, who has 38 Test caps, still has two Super 15 games and the Reds v Lions fixture on 8 June to impress selectors before the final 31 are chosen.

He had been Australia's first choice fly-half until suffering a knee injury at the 2011 World Cup and then falling out with Deans for criticising the "toxic" environment in the Wallabies camp.

"People will say that's the end for Quade but that's not the case," said coach Robbie Deans.

"Test rugby is another level from Super Rugby, we would like to see Quade defend in the front line and we would like him to assert himself more physically."

Deans confirmed that James O'Connor, who has started just one Test at fly-half, would be his first choice number 10.

Preliminary Australia 25-man squad: Ben Alexander, Berrick Barnes, Nick Cummins, Dave Dennis, Saia Fainga'a, Israel Folau, Will Genia, Liam Gill, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Sekope Kepu, Christian Lealiifano, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, James O'Connor, Wycliff Palu, Benn Robinson, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Sitaleki Timani, Joe Tomane.