O’Connor suffers setback

2012-09-13 00:00

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.

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 Simmons. 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, shortly after being told he was to play his first Test. ‘’So I’m very excited to be able to play alongside him.

Douglas’s elevation will herald an exodus of friends, relatives and former team-mates from his northern NSW hometown 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 hometown 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 Sydney.’’

Douglas followed his elder brother by originally playing rugby league and started playing union only when the Yamba Buccaneers first fielded a team in the U15s.

“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?’ ”

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