Report: Reds star James O'Connor set to miss 100th Super Rugby game
The veteran playmaker was named to start in this weekend’s Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash as part of a full-strength Queensland side fresh off their drought-breaking win over the Chiefs in Townsville last Saturday.
However, it seems as though O’Connor will have to wait another week to celebrate his centenary appearance in Super Rugby as Fox Sports reports that the 30-year-old utility back had been withdrawn on Thursday evening.
As a result, Bryce Hegarty will reportedly move from fullback to first-five while Hamish Stewart is expected to come into the No 15 jersey, which will allow midfielder Joshua Flook to come onto the bench.
Although the Reds are out of the running for a place in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final, the loss of O’Connor is a bitter blow nonetheless given his ability, experience and the influence he has on the youthful side.
The match, which the title-contending Blues were already heavy favourites for, would have also been a significant milestone for O’Connor after his tumultuous journey to this point in his career.
After debuting for the Western Force as the youngest Super Rugby player ever at the age of just 17 in 2007, O’Connor became a household name due to his mercurial talents on the park.
A failed comeback with the Queensland Reds in 2015 led O’Connor to head abroad again later that year, but a growth in maturity in recent years saw him flourish for the Sale Sharks in England, which led to an unexpected Wallabies re-call in 2019.
A return to the Reds followed last year, and O’Connor has since established himself as a pivotal figure within the Queensland dressing room, as evidenced by his co-captaincy of the side and his match-winning heroics in last month’s Super Rugby AU final.
After such a rollercoaster turn of events, turning out for his 100th match in Super Rugby would have been apt reward for the talismanic journeyman.
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