Australian Rugby
O'Connor eyes midfield berth
ESPNscrum Staff
October 24, 2011
Australia's James O'Connor goes for the posts, Australia v Ireland, Rugby World Cup, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, September 17, 2011
James O'Connor was one of the few goal-kickers who demonstrated consistent accuracy in New Zealand © Getty Images

James O'Connor is hoping that Quade Cooper makes a speedy recovery from injury but the Wallabies wing is hoping to take advantage of the fact that his team-mate's misfortune is likely to create an opening for him in midfield.

With Cooper having been ruled out of action for six months after suffering knee ligament damage in Friday's Rugby World Cup third-place play-off win over Wales, versatile centre Berrick Barnes is the obvious contender to wear the No.10 jersey when the Aussies meet Warren Gatland's men again in Cardiff in December. Barnes' likely redeployment would free up a space in midfield, a space that O'Connor is desperate to fill.

''It's no secret I want to play No.12. That's the position I want to play,'' O'Connor said. ''I'm happy to play on the wing, bide my time, but I'll be putting my hand up now, depending on how Quadey's going.

''Hopefully, he'll have a speedy recovery because he's not just a good mate of mine, but a massive asset to our team. But if the circumstances are such that he misses the spring tour, then I'll definitely be putting my hand up.''

Meanwhile, O'Connor, who finished as the World Cup's second top points-scorer behind Springbok fly-half Morne Steyn, revealed that his success was down to his impressive dedication, dedication that saw him continue to practice his goal-kicking even while holed up in the team hotel.

"Pretty much you find a spare room that you put a mattress up either against the wall or a big curtain and you kick for goal, just getting strikes on the ball," he said.

"You use a softer ball. There's a couple floating around. Gilbert made a soft one, like a beach ball, and it takes the load off your legs, as well.

"So you're still getting the same run-up and the same consistency and follow-through, but there's not as much pressure on the legs."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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