Wallaby O'Connor set to return for France Tests

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
James O'Connor (Getty Images)
James O'Connor (Getty Images)

Wallabies playmaker James O'Connor is expected to be fit for next month's Test series against France after a neck injury sidelined him from Super Rugby Trans Tasman, Australia coach Dave Rennie said on Thursday.

O'Connor missed the Reds' match against Blues last weekend, with Rennie revealing the in-form flyhalf needed rest after suffering pains in his neck.

"He's been getting stingers for the last four or five weeks and it came to a head (so) he missed last weekend," Rennie told reporters on Queensland's Gold Coast, where the Wallabies are setting up camp.

"He's going to miss this weekend (Reds v Hurricanes) but we anticipate him being all right (for the Tests)."

Rennie said O'Connor, who recently signed a contract extension that will take him through to the 2023 World Cup, had been "outstanding" this year for the Reds after leading them to the Super Rugby AU title.

While O'Connor's place in the Test side is seemingly locked in, Rennie said there were still spots up for grabs as Super Rugby Trans-Tasman enters its final regular-season round.

"We've probably got about 80 percent of the squad nailed and there's a handful of performances that are going to be important this weekend to make our final decision," he said.

Rennie named an extended 40-man squad for the France series in March but indicated a willingness to look beyond that group to bolster the Wallabies' playing stocks.

He confirmed that options included lock Izack Rodda, returning from a short stint in France, and Reds hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, who has signed for Montpellier next season.

But Rennie was against the widespread selection of overseas-based stars, saying it was against the best interests of the game in Australia.

"If we've got our best players here playing with the kids coming through it's going to improve the quality of the clubs and our competition," he said.

"If we pick wholesale, like South Africa and Argentina do from Europe and Japan, players will leave in droves because they can earn three times the amount of money."

The three-Test series against France begins in Sydney on 7 July.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
40% - 15127 votes
12% - 4676 votes
19% - 7087 votes
3% - 996 votes
1% - 374 votes
2% - 912 votes
5% - 1920 votes
9% - 3277 votes
4% - 1363 votes
Water sports
1% - 346 votes
American sports
1% - 470 votes
3% - 1266 votes