The Roar
The Roar



O’Connor and Paisami can keep the Wallabies winning

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Roar Pro
29th October, 2021
3056 Reads

The news that Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon will not be travelling to Europe with the Wallabies this year is disappointing for Australian rugby supporters.

Instead they are returning to their Japanese clubs after an excellent Australian international season by Cooper and Kerevi in particular.

However, the blow should be softened by taking a glass-half-full approach to the situation and remembering that at the beginning of the season none of them were on the radar to play for the Wallabies anyway, so having them has been an unexpected treat.

What we how have instead of Cooper and Kerevi in the respective ten and 12 positions is James O’Connor and Hunter Paisami, who played there for considerable parts of the Queensland Reds’ Super Rugby season this year.

(Photo by Getty Images)

This year O’Connor has bedded down his role as a skilled and level-headed ten, with a strong tactical appreciation, which translated into success in the Reds’ captaincy. He is also an accurate kicker from hand and the tee.

This Super Rugby season, Paisami showed that he has the acceleration, skills and instinct to be a constant threat, whether he is playing at first or second receiver.

This not only leads to him directly contributing to tries, but also ties up defenders and contributes to overlaps out wide.


This was demonstrated in what some considered to be a quiet game against Japan, when the Jordan Petaia try in oodles of space was assisted by the threat posed by Paisami as a dummy runner closer to the maul from which the try originated.

Paisami has had to work hard at the decision making and communication aspects of playing inside centre, but James O’Connor commented how much he had improved during the Reds season.

Hunter Paisami of the Wallabies passes the ball

(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Perhaps playing alongside a big playmaking personality like Quade Cooper will take a few games for him to get used to, but it seems likely that by playing back with the familiar O’Connor and Len Ikatau, who is shining as the Wallabies’ 13, Paisami will be in a good place to shine at the international level as well.

One thing that Paisami does need, though, is to be put into situations where there is just a little bit of space, as he doesn’t have the bulk of Kerevi to blast his way through first defenders, but he is quicker of the mark and more agile.

Sports opinion delivered daily 



His excellent ability to break tackles with his strong leg drive should be considered to be a bonus weapon in his arsenal, to be used if necessary after he has tried to evade rather than as his primary attribute.

He demonstrated all these attributes by playing a critical role in my favourite Reds try of recent years against the Western Force, running off Hamish Stewart to tear the Western Force defence apart at Suncorp Stadium, in a movement that ultimately led to fullback Jock Campbell scoring. See 1.54 at this link.

It would be awesome to see Paisami being allowed to mix things up a bit against Scotland, with some time at first receiver and some at second receiver to exploit the extra space.

So let’s embrace the Wallabies as a variety show rather than a solo act, with Dave Rennie being blessed with multiple options to win games and keep supporters happy.