O’Connor relishing chance to play 10 against Lions

Wallabies and Rebels flyhalf James O’Connor says that he is relishing the chance to play at 10 after being preferred to Quade Cooper as the Wallaby playmaker for next month’s three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

O’Connor, despite starting just once as a number 10 at international level, has been nominated by coach Robbie Deans as his starting choice for fly-half with Cooper left out of the preliminary 25-man squad for the series.

“Nothing’s set in stone — it’s still six weeks until the first Lions game. But I’ve played number 10 all my life so I’m pretty comfortable there if I get given the opportunity,” O’Connor told reporters.

“If I can put on that gold jersey again, it’s going to be massive.

“I missed last year through injury and there are a lot of good players playing this year who are in flying form.

“But if the opportunity comes, I’m going to take it with both hands.”

Deans said there were a number of strengths in O’Connor’s game that influenced his selection over Cooper.

“We believe he caters for our need. The last time he played for us, and obviously he wasn’t available at any stage last year, he played at number 10 against Wales at the end of 2011 and did a very good job,” the coach said.

“In the outings he’s had he’s got the components we are looking for.

“He’s clearly a bloke who traumatises defences, he keeps the attack very square, which provides opportunities for the channels (runners) around him.”

The opening Test against the Lions will be in Brisbane on June 22.

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