O’Connor set for centre transition

James O’Connor will begin his establishment at inside centre during the Wallabies end-of-year tour to the UK.

With Quade Cooper sidelined with a serious knee injury until the halfway stage of Super Rugby, Berrick Barnes is expected to start in the Wallabies No 10 jumper which should see O’Connor slot in at inside centre. It’s a move that interests O’Connor, after playing wing and fullback for most of his career with the Wallabies and Western Force in Super Rugby.

‘That was one of the main reasons I wanted to move down to Melbourne [he'll play for the Rebels next season],’ O’Connor told smh.com.au. ‘I wanted to move to that front line and get some experience there, and I see a good fit with Kurtley [Beale] at 15 and with Danny [Cipriani] there at 10.

‘There’s no doubt Quade brings a certain thing that not many guys can, and Kurtley as well,’ he continued. ‘They’re game winners and game breakers as well, but we’ve got a different group and everyone’s going to bring a different game. Barnsey brings a different game and I’m looking forward to getting involved with him.’

O’Connor said he wants to cement a place in the midfield to be more involved as a playmaker.

‘Any Australian team always plays an attacking style of rugby,’ he said. ‘I want to get into that front line, ball-playing a little bit more and [getting] a few more touches. The last couple of days I’ve been in the mix in those positions. Hand-on-ball time, the amount of time you get with the ball and the time you get to decision-make.

‘I guess when you’re in the front line you make most of the decisions, and that’s what I want to be doing. Ball-playing as well, but ball-running and taking a few more hit-ups.’