Planet Rugby

O'Connor wants Wallabies pivot role

15th April 2013 07:42

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James O Connor Rebels v Kings 2013

James O'Connor: Enjoys playing at fly-half

Rebels utility back James O'Connor is ready to challenge his mates Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper for the Wallabies' number 10 jersey.

Beale and Cooper have played more matches than O'Connor at fly-half for Australia but the Rebels stalwart believes competition for that position will only make the team stronger for their upcoming series against the British and Irish Lions.

O'Connor played at fly-half in the Rebels' 30-27 loss to the Kings on Saturday and insists he feels most comfortable playing there.

"The more we can push each other to get those starting positions to make the team better - it's going to be big trouble for the Lions," O'Connor told Sportal.

"I've played 10 in that ball-playing role since I started playing rugby, even back to my league days.

"It's sort of second nature - it's where I feel most comfortable.

"The more I play 10 for the Rebels, the easier the transition is going to be to the Wallabies, if I'm selected there."

Former Wallabies Stirling Mortlock and Tim Horan believe O'Connor is not ready to play at fly-haf, but O'Connor said coach Robbie Deans feels differently.

"My conversation with Robbie is he likes me in that 10 position and also on the wing," he added.

"I feel very comfortable in both those positions.

"I've got to work my way into the team first - it's not a given. I've been out for a year and there are other guys who are playing some great footy as well, so there's a lot to be done and a lot of form to be hit first."

O'Conner also revealed that he's been in touch regularly with Beale, who is suspended for an alcohol-related incident during the Rebels' recent tour to South Africa.

He said Beale is doing well, but is not sure when he would resume playing.

"I've been speaking to Kurtley a fair bit - he's in a good head space," said the 22-year-old.

"He's training hard and from all accounts he's looking pretty fit.

"He said he's going to give me a run for my money in my skin folds."

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