Australian Rugby - Wallabies v British & Irish Lions
James O'Connor to relish Wallabies No. 10 role
May 20, 2013
James O'Connor and Scott Higginbotham are proud Australians

James O'Connor says he will relish the responsibility of playing five-eighth for the Wallabies in the three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions.

O'Connor has been nominated by coach Robbie Deans as his starting choice for the position, with Quade Cooper left out of the initial 25-man squad, despite starting just one previous Test at No.10.

"Nothing's set in stone - it's still six weeks until the first Lions game," O'Connor said on Monday. "But I've played No. 10 all my life so I'm pretty comfortable there if I get given the opportunity.

"If I can put on that gold jersey again, it's going to be massive. I missed last year through injury, and there are a lot of good players playing this year who are in flying form. But if the opportunity comes, I'm going to take it with both hands."

O'Connor said the injury problems he suffered last year, including hamstring troubles and a lacerated liver, had made him a better player as he had increased the thoroughness of his physical preparation.

He was diplomatic when asked if he was surprised good friend Cooper had missed the squad. "The reality is players don't select the team," he said. "It's up to the coaches - that's how it is. I think Quade's been playing really well, he's been playing quite consistently for the Reds, and I think his game's definitely improved."


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