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Mixed news on Horwill, O'Connor

"I want to come back to the Test team and be a ball player" ...  James O'Connor.

"I want to come back to the Test team and be a ball player" ... James O'Connor. Photo: Getty Images

THE Wallabies are resigned to not seeing their Test captain James Horwill until at least the end-of-season northern hemisphere tour, but the chances of their first-choice five-eighth James O'Connor playing in the Rugby Championship improve by the day.

Horwill will undergo scans on a major hamstring tear early next week, with fears he may not play again until next season. O'Connor is also heading to a medical centre in Melbourne on Tuesday for scans on his lacerated liver, which has sidelined the Rebels and Wallabies pivot for two months.

O'Connor, who has been involved in non-contact work during the Wallabies' training camp in Melbourne, yesterday believed he would play again on June 29 when the Rebels play the Reds in Melbourne, and anticipated rejoining the Test team in August when the Wallabies are involved in the first Bledisloe Cup match against the All Blacks in Sydney.

O'Connor said he was running at 75 per cent, while the scan would ''determine my immediate future''.

''I will find out how my liver is recovering. My first scan indicated it was healing pretty quickly, but not at the rate I was hoping for to play in the June Tests,'' he said.

''I want to come back to the Test team and be a ball player. I haven't made any secret about that.''

In the interim, Berrick Barnes, originally the fourth-choice Test five-eighth, overcame the trauma of Newcastle with a vastly improved performance in Brisbane, while David Pocock, with Horwill away, has excelled in the captaincy role, vying with Will Genia for man-of-the-match honours at Suncorp Stadium last Saturday night.

Wallabies insiders have made note of Pocock's maturity, how he handled the loss to Scotland in Newcastle, and rallied the troops with aplomb in Brisbane. He has received praise from countless team officials, surprising many with how quickly he has acquitted himself to the vast responsibilities and pressure of being Test captain.

It is not just Pocock's on-field leadership that has enthused all, especially in how he kept his team focused in the first Test, but how he has taken to the many off-field duties that are not seen by the public. What has tantalised the Wallabies' fraternity is that what he tells the team is what he tells the media. There are no different agendas in operation.

How Pocock has risen to the role has some mulling over what will occur when Horwill eventually returns. It would not surprise if the pair share the role, as both are clearly leaders.

The art of a captain is being unselfish, and Pocock has showed his embracing nature whenever he is asked about his back-up Michael Hooper. Normally players can be paranoid about their underling. However after the Brisbane Test victory, without prompting, Pocock emphasised what an important role Hooper played when he came off the bench in the 59th minute. Hooper immediately dominated the breakdown, enabling the Wallabies to rally when Wales rebounded from being 20-6 down to drawing near at 20-19.

''Michael's impact in the first Test was huge for us, when he came off the bench. Having someone who is a specialist at the breakdown coming into the game when people are tiring is a pretty good move. We will be looking to profit from that,'' Pocock said.

A sign of respect is when opponents imitate, and Wales have responded to the Pocock-Hooper combination, by also selecting a specialist No. 7 fetcher - Justin Tipuric - on the bench.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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