Rugby Championship

O'Connor to join Wallabies in Johannesburg

2019-07-08 13:07
James O'Connor (AFP)

Cape Town - Australian utility back James O'Connor has been called up to the Wallabies squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship as cover for Marika Koroibete.

According to a report on the Rugby.com.au website, O'Connor will head to Johannesburg this week to train with the Wallabies after Koroibete remained in Melbourne for the birth of his second child.

The 44-Test utility back is not an official part of the squad but will join the group as a train-on member.

The 29-year-old is understood to be close to confirming a Super Rugby deal, an arrangement that would make him eligible for a Test return.

O'Connor was released from the final season of his contract with English club Sale Sharks last week, opening the door for him to make an Australian comeback.

The Reds are believed to be O'Connor's most likely destination and an official announcement could come later this week with negotiations ongoing.

Should that fall into place, O'Connor would be available immediately and could theoretically play for the Wallabies against the Springboks on July 21, though that seems unlikely.

Koroibete’s wife is expecting their second child and the Rebels winger requested to stay with her until the baby arrives.

The speedster is expected to link up with the squad later in the week, still more than a week out from their first Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks at Ellis Park.

"Marika (Koroibete) should join us later in the week, but mother nature is in charge here, so until then it’s a good opportunity for James to integrate into the team playing principles," said Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

O'Connor won't be the only addition to the group this week with injured back-row David Pocock also travelling to Johannesburg.

Pocock was not included in the Wallabies’ 34-man squad for the South Africa Test as he continues to work his way back from a calf injury.

"For David, we really want to do some specific rehab work with him and it's just better to have him with us at this stage to ensure we get his return to play exactly right," said Cheika.

 

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