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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.

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
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