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O'Connor ready for Boks challenge

James O'Connor is hoping a "whirlwind year" will end with a spectacular finale at Twickenham on Saturday.

The precocious Australia wing ticks off another of his must-do ambitions when he turns out for the Barbarians at full-back in the MasterCard trophy match against South Africa.

"I jumped at playing for the Barbarians - it's pretty exciting," he said.

O'Connor featured in Australia's 35-18 defeat against England three weeks ago, and the style with which their opponents won that match convinced the 20-year-old Martin Johnson's side have a shot at next year's World Cup.

He added: "We hadn't seen England play that style of rugby. It was good to see what England could do. Everyone knows they are a pretty physical nation and they go forward very well.

"England are definitely up in the mix. The All Blacks are still the leaders setting the benchmark but England are up there with us and South Africa.

"I've been dreaming about the World Cup since I was about five years old. I've always wanted to play in a World Cup. It's going to be an awesome competition."

O'Connor, who has a New Zealand father and a South African mother, is among six Australians in the Barbarians side which includes five All Blacks plus Italy's Salvatore Perugini and Martyn Williams from Wales.

Two uncapped players are also included - Chiefs number eight Colin Bourke and Western Province captain and second-row Anton van Zyl.

Barbarians: O'Connor (Aus), Rococoko (NZ), Mitchell (Aus), Ashley-Cooper (Aus), Nonu (NZ), Giteau (Aus, capt), Genia (Aus); Perugini (It), Moore (Aus), Tialata (NZ), Van Zyl (Stormers), Jack (NZ), So'oialo (NZ), Williams (Wal), Bourke (Chiefs). Replacements: Mealamu (NZ), Yapp (Wal), Geldenhuys (It), Braid (NZ), Ellis (NZ), Donald (NZ), Rabeni (Fij).


From Belfast Telegraph