Cheika tells O’Connor to work on speed

Date published: July 4 2015

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has hinted that James O'Connor may still be in the reckoning for a place in Australia's World Cup squad.

24-year-old O'Connor was a high-profile omission from the 40-man Wallaby squad named for the opening two games of the Rugby Championship after a disappointing Super Rugby season with the Reds.

O'Connor, who has 44 Test caps but last represented Australia in 2013, returned from a stint at French club Toulon in the hopes of winning a spot in Cheika's team for the World Cup but has been hampered by injury.

Australia kick off their campaign against South Africa in Brisbane on July 18 before facing Argentina a week later. Depending how he progresses in a special fitness program, Connor could be considered for selection for Round 3 against the All Blacks in Sydney on August 8.

"We've got a fitness program running for him to get back. In particular, for the things that he's good at," Cheika told Triple M.

"He hasn't had his 100 per cent speed back this season … his footwork … the things that have made him a really strong player for Australia previously.

"He needs to get those things back in his arsenal, so that when he does get into the team he can perform and compete with the other wingers and back three players in the squad."