Deemed not “sharp” enough, star flyhalf James O’Connor is a shock omission from the Wallabies’ squad to meet England in this weekend’s first Test in Perth.

Star flyhalf James O’Connor has been axed from the Wallabies side to meet England in Saturday night’s first Test in Perth.

O’Connor, who was Australia’s No.10 in the Wallabies’ poor tour of the UK in November, has lost out to both Quade Cooper and Noah Lolesio.

Japan-based Cooper, who was unavailable for the UK tour, will start at flyhalf this weekend, with Brumbies young gun Lolesio named on the bench.

O’Connor wasn’t the only Queensland star snubbed on the selection table, with Reds halfback Tate McDermott also missing out on the 23.

Brumbies halfback Nic White will start, with the Waratahs’ Jake Gordon his back-up among the reserves.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said O’Connor, who missed the latter stages of Queensland’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign, was “not quite sharp enough yet”.

“He missed a big chunk of the second part of the season … and while he’s fit and available, he just lacks a bit of sharpness,” Rennie said.

“Everything’s a lot quicker. He’s aware of that … but it’s not a disaster.

“Noah’s played very well. Quade brings a calmness, has massive experience and has trained very well.”

Rennie suggested McDermott had paid the price for the Reds’ poor end to their Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

“It was tight. Jake and ‘Whitey’ had excellent seasons,” Rennie said.

“Tate was good (but) it was harder for him in the final couple of months (of the Super Rugby Pacific season) against the New Zealand sides where they (the Reds) struggled as a group.

“It’s a highly competitive position. Tate’s trained really well in the last couple of weeks and putting a lot of heat on, but we wanted to reward form from Super Rugby.”

Only one player from this year’s Reds squad – Jordan Petaia – has made the 23 and he will start on the bench.

Powerful Queensland prop Taniela Tupou was considered for selection but has been given another week to recover from a calf injury.

Australia’s starting 15 includes two debutants – Waratahs hooker David Porecki and Brumbies lock Cadeyrn Neville.

At 33 years and 235 days, Neville will become the third oldest Wallabies debutant since World War II.

“Earning their first caps is a proud occasion for David, Cadeyrn and their families, with both men taking a unique journey to realise their dream of wearing the Wallabies jersey,” Renne said.

“The honour of representing your country is a massive motivating factor and we’ll be doing everything we can to put in a performance that makes all Australians proud.”

Wallabies: Angus Bell, David Porecki, Allan Alaalatoa, Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Leota, Michael Hooper (c), Rob Valetini, Nic White, Quade Cooper, Marika Koroibete, Samu Kerevi, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway, Tom Banks. Bench: Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Matt Philip, Pete Samu, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Jordan Petaia.

Read related topics:Perth

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *