James O'Connor to relish Wallabies No. 10 role
May 20, 2013
James O'Connor and Scott Higginbotham are proud Australians
O'Connor has been nominated by coach Robbie Deans as his starting choice for the position, with Quade Cooper left out of the initial 25-man squad, despite starting just one previous Test at No.10.
"Nothing's set in stone - it's still six weeks until the first Lions game," O'Connor said on Monday. "But I've played No. 10 all my life so I'm pretty comfortable there if I get given the opportunity.
"If I can put on that gold jersey again, it's going to be massive. I missed last year through injury, and there are a lot of good players playing this year who are in flying form. But if the opportunity comes, I'm going to take it with both hands."
O'Connor said the injury problems he suffered last year, including hamstring troubles and a lacerated liver, had made him a better player as he had increased the thoroughness of his physical preparation.
He was diplomatic when asked if he was surprised good friend Cooper had missed the squad. "The reality is players don't select the team," he said. "It's up to the coaches - that's how it is. I think Quade's been playing really well, he's been playing quite consistently for the Reds, and I think his game's definitely improved."
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'