Cooper hails O'Connor display
November 28, 2011
James O'Connor took to the fly-half role with aplomb against the Barbarians © Getty Images
O'Connor took over the playmaking duties with Cooper, Australia's first choice fly-half, in the early stages of his rehabilitation from a knee ligament injury sustained at the World Cup.
O'Connor, who has played the majority of his 36 Tests on the wing, contributed 20 points in a strong all-round display as the Wallabies beat the Barbarians 60-11 at Twickenham. And Cooper, who will be sidelined for six months, was full of praise for his replacement.
"He did great and it was great to see him play with a lot of confidence," Cooper told AAP. "Coming in off the wing was something that he wanted to do to get his hands on the ball more and to see him running around - making breaks left, right and centre - it was good."
Australia face Wales at the Millennium Stadium at the weekend in the final match of a two-game tour and Cooper admits O'Connor faces a far sterner test against a Welsh side seeking revenge for their defeat by the Wallabies in the Rugby World Cup third-place playoff.
"It's a different kettle of fish," said Cooper. "It's going to be a whole new level up against the Welsh in front of a passionate crowd but James will definitely rise to that occasion. They've just got to soak it up and still play running rugby."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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