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Deans upbeat over fitness concerns

Australia coach Robbie Deans expects Wycliff Palu and Kurtley Beale to be available for Saturday's opening Test against the British and Irish Lions.

Number eight Palu has been troubled by a knee problem and sat out training on Friday, while utility back Beale was also rested from the session due to an unspecified injury.

Deans names his team to face the Lions on Thursday and can ill-afford to lose either player, with Palu a definite starter, while Beale is one of the Wallabies' most gifted runners. "Wycliff and Kurtley missed some sections of training. Most importantly they were involved to some degree, which is progress from where they have been," Deans said.

"Palu has made good progress and is being considered."

Hostilities ahead of the series opener at the Suncorp Stadium escalated when former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer described the Lions as "cheats", but Deans refused to pour any additional fuel on the fire.

"I've been made aware of what was said, but I'm not interested in discussing it," said Deans.

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