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O'Connor wants to push Beale for pivotal role at Rebels


Melissa Woods

James O'Connor playing for the Rebels.

James O'Connor playing for the Rebels. Photo: Getty Images

Injured star James O'Connor might be forced to watch Kurtley Beale cement his position as Wallabies' five-eighth on the European tour but that doesn't mean he's going to hand him the Melbourne Rebels' No.10 jersey.

O'Connor has endured the most frustrating year of his short but impressive career, missing all of the international season and only managing seven Super Rugby games, due to injury.

The 22-year-old came agonisingly close to heading off with the Wallabies on Saturday on the four-Test European tour but medical staff decided to take a cautious approach over his troublesome hamstring and ruled him out.

"I've been running at 100 per cent but there was something that didn't feel right and I got a scan which showed some swelling and bleeding," he said.

O'Connor won't play again until the Super Rugby trials in February rather than risk any long-term damage with the Lions' tour of Australia looming in 2013.

"It's been tough because I thought I'd be back but I think it's the right decision," he said.

O'Connor is determined to have a Rebels' play-maker role, whether that be from five-eighth, inside centre or from fullback and sees himself working well in tandem with Beale.

But he admits he fancies the five-eighth role, a position he thrived in for the Wallabies on last year's European tour.

"There will definitely be some competition," said O'Connor.

"I think I play best in the team where there's two ball-players - no more because then it gets a bit clouded.

"Kurtley's been playing really well at 10 but I'll definitely be pushing for that position and I think we'll fit in quite nicely in a 10-15 combo or 10-12 combo."

The pair were rarely on the paddock together in their debut year for the Rebels, with one or both injured.

If they can stay fit, the backline looks impressive with current Wallabies' halfback Nick Phipps and Test winger Cooper Vuna, who is returning from shoulder surgery, while giant centre Mitch Inman might also be pushing for Test selection this year.

"It's looking good on paper so, if we can get that connection going together, the core group is one of the best I've played in as a team so it's exciting times," O'Connor said.


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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 vs AUS 01:30Twic
USA vs NZL 07:00Soldier Field
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs SAM 01:00Stadio Del Duca
ENG vs NZL 01:30Twic
WAL vs AUS 01:30MilS
FRA vs FJI 03:45Stade Velodrome
IRE vs RSA 04:30Lansdowne Road
SCO vs ARG 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs ARG 01:00Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris
ENG vs RSA 01:30Twic
WAL vs FJI 01:30MilS
SCO vs NZL 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
FRA vs AUS 07:00StdF
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE vs GEO 01:30Lansdowne Road
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs RSA 01:00Stadio Plebiscito
SCO vs TGA 01:30Rugby Park
IRE vs AUS 03:30Lansdowne Road
WAL vs NZL 04:30MilS
ENG vs SAM 06:00Twic
FRA vs ARG 07:00StdF
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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