Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

O'Connor keen to remain at fly-half

James O'Connor, left, wants to keep the number 10 shirt for the second Test

James O'Connor wants to continue at fly-half when Australia attempt to haul themselves back into their series against the British and Irish Lions at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

O'Connor played only his second Test in the position in the 23-21 defeat in Brisbane and, by the admission of coach Robbie Deans, endured a "difficult" match. The atrocious number of injuries incurred by the Wallabies meant he was directing an ever-changing backline, but even allowing for that mitigation he could still be replaced by Kurtley Beale at number 10.

But the 22-year-old, who would switch to wing or full-back if Beale is preferred, is unwilling to give up the jersey just yet with the team scheduled to be announced on Thursday. "I'd like another crack at fly-half, 100 per cent. I'm not too fazed about where I start, but I'd like another go there," he said.

"You're always better for playing matches with the guys around you. We did some good things and let some things go.

"If we win I've done my job, if we haven't then I've got to go back to the drawing board."

Australia's scrum was transformed in the opening Test at Suncorp Stadium, being shoved back at the start only to win two potentially match-winning penalties at the end that Beale failed to convert.

Tighthead prop Ben Alexander, who will be winning his 50th cap on Saturday, believes the Wallabies' pack can only improve at the set-piece having played their first game together since November.

"We've always been confident in our scrum. Bar one game in the last year, we've scrummaged well," the Brumbie said.

"We've come across their guys plenty of times before. We knew what they were capable of. It was good for us to get a hit out at eight, like for combinations in the backs, it's the same for forwards when it comes to scrummaging.

"It's a team effort and you have to find your rhythm together. It's a good starting point, but we want to eradicate any bad scrums from our game. The Lions won't be happy with the way they finished and knowing (forwards coach) Graham Rowntree, they'll be work hard on that this week."

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