Sydney - James O'Connor's plan to be part of the Wallabies squad heading to
South Africa and Argentina later this month, where he hoped to regain
his Test flyhalf spot, are over due to ongoing hamstring problems.
O'Connor joined the Wallabies on the Gold Coast in a bid to make the
two-week tour, but medical staff decided yesterday it was premature for
him to return and unwise for him to travel overseas. He will continue
his rehabilitation in Melbourne.
Also, the Wallabies will not risk hooker Stephen Moore against Argentina, and have Saia Faingaa as Tatafu Polota-Nau's backup.
Meanwhile, a reminder of how long Nathan Sharpe has been part of the
Wallabies furniture came on Tuesday when his latest second-row Test
partner admitted he first saw him playing while in primary school.
Waratahs second-rower Kane Douglas was an unexpected inclusion in the
team to play Argentina when he was preferred to the more experienced Rob
It will be the first time the 23-year-old Douglas, who won the position
because, as Wallabies coach Robbie Deans puts it, ''he is our best
tighthead lock'', will partner Sharpe, who takes over the captaincy .
''I've been watching him [Sharpe] play since I was a little kid,''
Douglas said on Tuesday, shortly after being told he was to play his
first Test. ''So I'm very excited to now be able to play alongside him
for the first time.
''I know I was pretty young when I first watched him, and he had hair in
those days. Every time I remembered watching the Wallabies as a kid, he
Douglas's elevation will herald an exodus of friends, relatives and
former teammates from his northern NSW home town of Yamba to attend the
game. Joining them will be elder brother Luke, who plays in the NRL for
the Gold Coast Titans.
''This will feel like a bit of a home game, because quite a few of my
mates are coming up for the game, as my home town is only a couple of
hours away,'' he said. ''I've got heaps of mates who have also moved up
here since finishing school … It's certainly closer to Yamba than
Douglas followed his elder brother in originally playing rugby league
and started playing union only when the Yamba Buccaneers first fielded a
team in the under-15s.
''I found my body was more suited to rugby, because there are not too
many tall league players running around,'' he said. ''But the family
remain league orientated. Even when I started playing rugby in Sydney,
Dad would say to me: 'What are you doing next year? Do you want to come
and play league?'''