O'Connor eyes midfield role

Wallabies youngster wants to play at inside centre

Last Updated: 24/10/11 8:48am

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O'Connor: Wants to play inside centre

O'Connor: Wants to play inside centre

Sky Bet

Australia youngster James O'Connor is eyeing a switch towards midfield in the absence of injured playmaker Quade Cooper.

Cooper will be out for at least six months after it was confirmed he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the World Cup bronze final win over Wales on Friday.

His absence will force Robbie Deans to reshuffle his midfield for the Wallabies' upcoming fixtures against the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 26 and Wales at Millennium Stadium on December 3.

Berrick Barnes is the frontrunner to step in at fly-half, leaving a vacancy at inside centre.

And O'Connor, who has been used primarily on the right wing at Test level this season, is keen to take the number 12 jersey.

"It's no secret I want to play 12. I want to get closer to the action and get my hands on the ball," said O'Connor, Australia's form back throughout the World Cup.

With Pat McCabe a major doubt due to a shoulder injury, Anthony Fainga'a and Rob Horne are both strong candidates for the inside centre role.

Hopeful

Even so, O'Connor remains hopeful Deans can be persuaded to give him a chance.

"For me it's all about the team - if we're winning, as long as we're getting a few touches and I guess doing what I can going forward as much as possible," said the 21-year-old.

"I'm pretty happy to have that goal-kicking role. It keeps me involved in the game as much as possible.

"Every Test in the jersey means a lot. For me it's about developing my game. No matter what happens, I guess I'll be putting my hand up for one of those inside jobs."

Asked to rate his own form in the World Cup, O'Connor said: "I've been happy with most of my performances this tour. I try to take it each game at a time and try to make it like you're playing your last.

Different style

"It is a different style of rugby. It's not as quick and I think everyone plays the percentages.

"You can't afford to make errors, and field position and territory plays a massive role in the World Cup.

"So that's what I've taken out of it and it's going to put us in better stead for not only next year but 2015."

O'Connor will attend a strategy session with new Melbourne Rebels team-mates Kurtley Beale and Danny Cipriani next week before beginning preparations for the Barbarians clash.

He will relocate to Melbourne in early January after agreeing to a lucrative deal with the fledgling franchise.

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