Australia's James O'Connor looking forward to taking on British and Irish Lions

Last Updated: 04/06/13 6:57pm

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James O'Connor: Can't wait to match up against the Lions' big-hitters

James O'Connor: Can't wait to match up against the Lions' big-hitters

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Australia fly-half James O'Connor is relishing the chance to face the British and Irish Lions, with the first Test fast approaching on June 22.

The Melbourne Rebels star is favourite to take the Test spot for the Wallabies ahead of ousted playmaker Quade Cooper, who wasn't included in coach Robbie Deans' initial 25-strong squad.

The two went head-to-head last Saturday and the Rebels were beaten by Cooper's Reds, which has added more fuel to the selection debate raging Down Under.

Despite a lack of Test fly-half experience - O'Connor has played just once in that position for the Wallabies - the 22-year-old can't wait to face up to the physical challenge of playing against the tourists.

"If I get the opportunity to play 10, it's going to be massive," he said. "It's a huge opportunity as well as very humbling."

"Looking at the structures and the game plan, it fits my game quite well. I think I'll be able to serve our team."


O'Connor, who has 37 caps playing predominantly at full-back and wing, expects to be targeted, but thinks that just comes with the role.

"When you put that 10 jersey on, you are always targeted there. It's the closest channel off the scrum. It's no different to some of the big Kiwi boys, or even some of the guys we've got running around Australia," he said.

"But (the Lions) will be bringing that intensity, and they are class players when you look at (Jamie) Roberts, (Brian) O'Driscoll and (Manu) Tuilagi."

He added, "I'm in a good space at the moment and the team environment is really up."

Troubled Wallaby Kurtley Beale has been training with O'Connor and the rest of the Australia squad this week as he continues to battle alcohol-related issues, and his Rebels team-mate is pleased to see him doing well.

O'Connor said: "He's buzzing. He's bringing in a great vibe around training and all the boys are getting around him and supporting him. KB is a character.

"He brings positivity and he does bring that buzz to training and a team environment."

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