Robbie Deans backs Australia fly-half James O'Connor to come good

Last Updated: 27/06/13 9:20am

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James O'Connor: Has the backing of Robbie Deans

James O'Connor: Has the backing of Robbie Deans

Sky Bet

Australia coach Robbie Deans is backing James O'Connor to come good in Saturday's second Test against the British and Irish Lions.

O'Connor endured a torrid time during the 23-21 defeat to the tourists despite being handed his favoured No 10 jersey.

However Deans claims O'Connor's troubles were understandable given the injuries suffered by the Wallabies in Brisbane.

Christian Lealiifano was taken off less than a minute into his debut with concussion, while Pat McCabe, Berrick Barnes and Adam Ashley-Cooper also went off with knocks.

Such was the extent of the problems faced by Australia at the Suncorp Stadium that openside flanker Michael Hooper ended up playing at inside centre.

And Deans claims he had no doubt over retaining O'Connor at fly-half.

"He is going to be a lot better for that outing," said Deans.

"It was a very tough circumstance for him with the disruption and while the performance wasn't perfect it is a team game. He is part of that but so our others and it was difficult with having Hoops at 12.


"We will be much better with an extra week's work and having a specialist alongside him."

That specialist is Lealiifano, with the inside centre having been cleared fit to play in Melbourne - and Deans believes he and Ashley-Cooper can play key roles.

"Clearly this week we have had the benefit of some more prep and hopefully we will have a little more fluency in our game," added Deans. "Christian will be a big part of that.

"Cooper was very sore post-match but he was cleared in the terms of anything structural so it is just a case of getting beyond the discomfort and pain and he has done that."

O'Connor and Kurtley Beale, who missed the last-minute penalty in the first Test when he slipped over, were photographed at 3.50am in Hungry Jacks following the Lions' 35-0 win over the Rebels.

And although an investigation confirmed the duo had not been drinking, Deans revealed that he has spoken to them about their conduct.

"That's not an ideal hour. We've had a conversation for sure. Suffice to say it wasn't a comfortable conversation," Deans said.

"They haven't broken any team protocols, but obviously it's not best practice. They understood that, but it was too late. Yes they will be prepared for this game."

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