James O'Connor 'weak link' at 10
June 13, 2013
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Former England playmaker Stuart Barnes has lashed James O'Connor's five-eighth credentials and claimed the Wallabies will lose the first Test against the British & Lions with him at No.10. Barnes, who played eight games for the Lions in 1993, said O'Connor's lack of experience in the pivotal position made him a "massive weak link" in high-pressure, intense Test rugby.
"He's a rookie in terms of being a 10," the 51-year-old told Fox Sports' Rugby HQ. "I honestly think if he started the first Test then the Lions will definitely win."
The Melbourne Rebels' star utility back has only started one of his 37 Tests for Australia at five-eighth, but coach Robbie Deans has anointed him as his chief playmaker.
Barnes is a bigger fan of Quade Cooper, who was controversially overlooked by Deans for Australia's 31-man squad. He couldn't see O'Connor hanging tough and stepping up like a Stephen Larkham or Michael Lynagh if the Wallabies were struggling.
"Larkham and Lynagh, when it wasn't working, they didn't blow it for the team," Barnes added. "I just think with his lack of experience and the fact he's so much in the traffic the Lions will get to James O'Connor, and I think that could be a massive weak link."
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