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The Rugby Championship
O'Connor injury blow for Wallabies
ESPN Staff
July 2, 2012
The Rebels' James O'Connor looks for the offload, Melbourne Rebels v Reds, Super Rugby, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia, June 29, 2012
Australia's James O'Connor is a doubt for his side's Rugby Championship opener with New Zealand in Sydney © Getty Images
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Australia have been dealt a significant blow ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against New Zealand next month with the news that James O'Connor will miss the Sydney showdown.

The versatile back aggravated a hamstring injury in the Melbourne Rebels' 32-17 loss to the Reds in Melbourne on Friday night and is expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks therefore ruling him out of the clash with the All Blacks on August 18 and possibly the return clash in Auckland the following week.

The 21-year-old was in line to start at fly-half for the Wallabies having recovered from lacerated liver and hamstring injuries earlier this year but it is a recurrence of the latter that is set to force coach Robbie Deans into a re-think.

A potential replacement in that role is O'Connor's team-mate Kurtley Beale but reports suggest he may also be sidelined for some time with a rib injury picked up in the same game. Rebels coach Damien Hill revealed that Beale, who has only just returned from a shoulder injury, was "sore all over" following his latest outing and will be assessed further in a couple of days. Both players are also set to miss the Rebels' season-ending tour of South Africa.

With Quade Cooper still battling back to full fitness following a knee reconstruction, Berrick Barnes may well retain the playmaker role having featured at No.10 throughout the recent series against Wales.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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