Login
Logout
Show scores
LIVE NOW
1HA Harlequins LIVE NOW Bristol BRI

Bledisloe position switch for JOC

Back

Surprise position switch set for James O'Connor ahead of first test start in 6 years

The Wallabies are set to roll the dice with former bad boy James O’Connor as they juggle World Cup aspirations with Bledisloe Cup glory against the All Blacks.

With the team named Thursday morning, O’Connor is set to play outside centre for their clash with New Zealand in Perth on Saturday night, in his first start in six years.

With the Wallabies struggling to convert dominant possession and opportunities into points in their Rugby Championship clashes with South Africa and Argentina, coach Michael Cheika has decided to bring another ball-player into his backline to replace outside centre Tevita Kuridrani.

Grand slam-winning captain Andrew Slack, who is a former Wallabies selector, told AAP that O’Connor needed a chance to prove himself for World Cup selection after only getting 10 minutes off the bench in the Wallabies win over Argentina in Brisbane.

He said that O’Connor should even be a considered as an option at five-eighth, should Christian Lealiifano or Bernard Foley not rise to the occasion ahead of the World Cup.

“I certainly think O’Connor should play a role in the game,” Slack told AAP.

“I don’t think they’d go for O’Connor at 10 although that’s what he was originally and should nothing show up with Christian or Bernard playing particularly well in the few games we’ve got, he may be worth a punt at 10.”

Now 29, Connor became the second youngest Wallaby in Australian rugby history at age 18, but his promising career went off track after alcohol and drug indiscretions.

Before the Brisbane win over the Pumas his last Test was back in 2013.

O’Connor is unlikely to be the only selection gamble by Cheika as he looks to bed down his World Cup squad with just three Tests to play before their opening World Cup match.

They are also desperate to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

Nic White, who was solid in their loss to the Springboks, is tipped to get another start at halfback, relegating Will Genia to the bench.

He will partner Christian Lealiifano, who will retain the No.10 jersey ahead of Bernard Foley.

Brumbies tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa is also set to be rushed back into the starting team after overcoming a foot injury and will bolster the front-row against Owen Franks, Codie Taylor and Joe Moody, who led the Crusaders to the Super Rugby title.

Extra week in camp boosts the All Blacks:

Video Spacer

Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.

Surprise position switch set for James O'Connor ahead of first test start in 6 years