Wallaby O’Connor set to return for France Tests

Wallabies game leader James o’connor should 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’ game against the Blues last weekend, with Rennie revealing the in-shape opening half needed a rest after suffering from neck pain.

“He’s been having stingers for four or five weeks and he missed (see above) last weekend,” Rennie told reporters on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where the wallabies make their camp.

“He’s going to miss this weekend (Reds vs. Hurricanes) but we expect him to be fine (for testing).”

Rennie said O’Connor, who recently signed a contract extension that will take him to the 2023 World Cup, has been “exceptional” this year for the Reds after leading them to the AU Super Rugby title.

While O’Connor’s place on the Test squad is apparently on lockdown, Rennie said there is still room to be won as Super Rugby Trans-Tasman enters their final round of the regular season.

“We probably have about 80% of the squad nailed and there are a handful of performances that are going to be important this weekend in making our final decision,” he said.

Rennie named an expanded 40-man squad for the France series in March, but indicated his willingness to look beyond that group to bolster the Wallabies’ playing stocks.

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

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

“If we have our best players here playing with the children who are coming, it will improve the quality of the clubs and of our competition,” he said.

“If we choose wholesale, like South Africa and Argentina do in Europe and Japan, the players will leave en masse because they can make three times the money.”

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

Source: News24

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