June 18 (Reuters) - Australia coach Robbie Deans received some welcome news on Tuesday with bustling winger Digby Ioane declaring himself fit for the first test against the British and Irish Lions in Brisbane.
The powerfully-built Ioane, who had knee surgery late last month to clean up damaged cartilage, said his rehabilitation had gone well enough for him to feel he was ready to play, if selected, at Lang Park on Saturday.
”It’s feeling good, I’ll be ready for this weekend,“ Ioane told reporters in Brisbane. ”I just had to do the little things first to get it right but now I‘m right to go.
”It had been frustrating but we’ve got very good doctors and physios.
“All I have to do is just get picked for this weekend.”
When fit, the 27-year-old has been a first-choice for Deans and would be expected to start on the left wing, with code-hopping Israel Folau tipped to start on the right to provide the Wallabies with devastating strike power on the flanks.
Deans’ tenure with the Wallabies has been blighted by serious injuries to many of his first-choice players, though he appears to have a virtually full-strength squad to choose from for the first match of the three-test series even if some, including Ioane, have not played for several weeks.
His Lions counterpart Warren Gatland, however, has watched his squad succumb to a raft of injuries that forced him to draft in retired Wales winger Shane Williams for their clash against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra later on Tuesday.
Williams, who retired from international rugby in 2011, will only be available for the Brumbies match. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)