O’Connor trains at five-eighth for Wallabies
James O’Connor is firming as Australia’s five-eighth for Saturday’s clash with the Barbarians at Twickenham after training in the position in west London on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old held down the play-making position during the hour-long session in foggy conditions at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith.
It was the national side’s first hit-out since arriving on Sunday morning, the players going through their paces at the school that has educated the likes of actors Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman and chef Heston Blumenthal.
Backrowers Matt Hodgson and Scott Higginbotham missed the session with illness but were both expected to be available for selection this weekend.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is weighing up whether to select Berrick Barnes or O’Connor for the No.10 jersey because of Quade Cooper’s absence with a serious knee injury.
Barnes was named man of the match for his performance, largely at No.10, in Australia’s 21-18 victory in the third-place playoff against Wales at the World Cup last month.
O’Connor, 21, has been keen to move in off the wing and play a more central role in the Wallabies backline and a match against the Barbarians has less riding on it than most internationals.
“He can ball play, he has shown that in Super Rugby (for the Western Force),” Australian halfback Will Genia said.
“He really wants the opportunity and hopefully Robbie gives it to him.
“We will how see how he goes.”
The Wallabies have an enviable record against the Barbarians, having won eight of their 11 meetings.
The invitational side has chalked up major southern hemisphere scalps in the past two years, defeating the All Blacks in 2009 and South Africa in 2010.© AAP 2013
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