Tom Banks’ fractured arm has opened a vacancy at fullback that could be filled by James O’Connor as a Wallabies reunion with Quade Cooper looms next Saturday.
James O’Connor’s Wallabies reunion with Quade Cooper has firmed after Tom Banks’ broken arm put an end to his Rugby Championship and potentially the Spring Tour.
The fullback had started all seven Tests this year and was playing confidently at Suncorp Stadium before knocking his arm in a tackle late in the first half against South Africa.
He was sent to hospital and coach Dave Rennie later confirmed the fracture for the No.15.
Banks was replaced by Reece Hodge in the 30-17 win that shot the Wallabies, ranked No.7 a week ago, to No.3 in the world.
Cooper was again composed in the No.10, his in-game kicking key to the hosts seizing control in what was their first back-to-back Test wins since 2019.
A Super Rugby AU title winner at No.10 for Queensland Reds, O’Connor has recovered from a groin injury but been kept out of the side for the last two wins due to Cooper’s fine form.
But Australia play Argentina in back-to-back Tests over the next fortnight and Rennie had already indicated mid-week he could return to the position he first filled for the Wallabies in 2008.
The Wallabies then play Japan next month and Scotland, England and Wales in successive weeks in November.
“We’ve got a number of considerations, but great to have Rabs (O’Connor) back into the mix,” the coach said.
“He’s ready to go and again another experienced player.”
Cooper was the match-winner in his Test return last Sunday and played another understated hand on Saturday at his old rugby home in Brisbane.
“Maturity probably,” Rennie said when asked how Cooper had reined in his ambitious offensive game for the good of the team.
“We want to play, but we’re also playing against a side that doesn’t want the ball, so we talked a lot about giving them the ball and ideally in situations where when they kick we can profit from it.
“We still didn’t do a good enough job around the high ball and that’s got to be better, but I think Quade’s been really disciplined.
“I was really happy with the way he defended in the second half, he chopped really well.”