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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 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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