Rugby-Wallaby O'Connor ready for return to 10 against Pumas

30 Nov 2020 / 11:19 H.

    By Nick Mulvenney

    SYDNEY, Nov 30 (Reuters) - James O'Connor has declared himself fit to put on the Australia number 10 shirt again in the last match of the Tri-Nations against Argentina at the weekend after missing the rest of the tournament with knee and foot injuries.

    The Wallabies are unlikely to get the 101 points they need to win the Tri-Nations at Western Sydney Stadium on Saturday but O'Connor said he was delighted to be available to try to help Australia finish the season on a high.

    "We got there in the end, it's been a little bit frustrating but I've learned from experience that you can't force things," he said on Monday.

    "I'm in a position now where I feel I can do the job."

    The 30-year-old's return would bring welcome specialist experience in the playmaker role after the versatile Reece Hodge filled in at flyhalf for Australia's last two matches.

    While Hodge steered the Wallabies to a 24-22 win over the All Blacks in Brisbane, coach Dave Rennie was left fuming after poor game management let Argentina recover from 15-6 down to draw 15-15 in Australia's last outing.

    "Hodgy's done a great job and, as you know, he plays in every position ... I'm not a selector but I think he definitely deserves to be out on the field somewhere," said O'Connor.

    "Having said that, we have a pretty damaging centre combination, they're doing a good job, and the back three as well so that's a headache decision."

    Although winning by a cricket score to clinch the title is not a realistic goal -- "It's a big number," he joked -- O'Connor said a victory was essential to consolidate the improvements made by a young side under new coaches this season.

    "This game is a must-win game for us, it's very important for our campaign and moving forward as a group," he added.

    "It's not just finishing this campaign (well), it's springing us forward to next year."

    (Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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