Rugby World Cup 2011
O'Connor back in Oz fold
James O'Connor (Gallo)
Auckland - Wing James O'Connor will be unlikely to take the Wallaby jersey for granted in future after his recall to the Australia team for Saturday's Rugby World Cup pivotal Pool C match with Ireland, coach Robbie Deans said on Thursday.
The 21-year-old utility back was the Wallabies' only enforced change in the team announced on Thursday for the Eden Park match, replacing winger Digby Ioane, who fractured a thumb in the opening 32-6 win over Italy last Sunday.
O'Connor, who had become a priority selection with his positional versatility, was dropped from the Wallabies' starting XV after he failed to attend the World Cup squad announcement last month.
He was suspended for one match, missing the Tri-Nations decider against the All Blacks, and then was selected among the reserves against Italy.
But he made a big impact coming off the bench last weekend, scoring a try and kicking three conversions as a 47th-minute replacement for outside centre Anthony Fainga'a, who will line up against Irish superstar Brian O'Driscoll.
Deans welcomed O'Connor back on to the right wing, saying: "He did a good job off the bench and he is less likely to take that jersey for granted in the future."
O'Connor will also take over as designated goalkicker from flyhalf Quade Cooper.
"I'm stoked and I can't wait to play against Ireland,"O'Connor told a packed press conference. "I'm just focusing on my rugby, I've done a lot of preparation for this week and that's where my head's at."
"It's great to be back in the starting team and it's awesome to be playing against Ireland.
"It was good to be involved against Italy and I just want to be involved as much as possible and get a good start to the World Cup."
O'Connor's return also forced a positional change for Adam Ashley-Cooper, who moves from the right to the left wing.
Drew Mitchell takes the vacant backs position among the replacements after missing this year's Tri-Nations following ankle surgery.
"It's great for Drew and it's a good story for him just to get himself into the squad was a good achievement and now he's got the opportunity to pull the jersey on," Deans said.
Otherwise Deans kept the same Wallaby starting side that dismantled the Italians in the second half of their World Cup opener with 26 unanswered second half points.
"We're not too concerned about the numbers on the back (of the jerseys), jobs need to be done and he (Ashley-Cooper) is willing and able to be up for it, and Coops is definitely one of those blokes," he said.
"That's just part of us and we need them all to be able and personally understand what is required to get the job done."
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Anthony Fainga’a, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Adam
Ashley-Cooper, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 David Pocock,
6 Rocky Elsom, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Dan Vickerman, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen
Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu
Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James
Slipper, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Luke
Burgess, 22 Drew MitchellIreland:
15 Rob Kearney, 14
Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Keith
Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean
O'Brien, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3
Mike Ross, 2 Rory
Best, 1 Cian Healy
Substitutes: 16 Jerry Flannery, 17 Tom Court, 18
Donnacha Ryan, 19 Denis Leamy, 20 Conor Murray, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22