Brumbies shut door on O’Connor

Mon, 08 Apr 2013 16:41
Large james o connor rebels v bru Large pat mccabe Large christianlealiifanobrumbiestraining

The Brumbies are not interested in acquiring the services of Melbourne Rebels star James O'Connor for next year.

The Brumbies are not interested in acquiring the services of Melbourne Rebels star James O'Connor for next year.

Rumours last week suggested that O’Connor was unhappy at the Rebels and linked the 22-year-old with a move to the Brumbies or a possible return to the Western Force.

However, Brumbies backline coach Stephen Larkham on Monday threw cold water over suggestions that the Wallaby utility back would be heading to Canberra at the end of the Super Rugby season.
 
"There's no truth in that at all. We're not talking to him," Larkham said.

Larkham said O'Connor’s history of off-field issues was a non-issue and that the decision not to pursue him came down to the Brumbies’ solid backline depth.

Coach Jake White has assembled a strong squad of players since taking over the reins from Tony Rea ahead of the 2012 season and has a number of selection posers to contend with with the likes of Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe and Jesse Mogg on the books.

McCabe’s return from injury last week necessitated a backline reshuffle for the home game against the Southern Kings, which saw Lealiifano shifted from inside centre to No.10 in place of Toomua.

The Australian Conference leaders stuttered to a disappointing 28-all draw, a result that saw them surrender their place atop the overall log.
 
As a result, Toomua will likely return at flyhalf for Friday’s clash against the Highlanders, who despite their winless record possess a talented and powerful back division featuring the likes of All Black trio Colin Slade, Ma'a Nonu and Hosea Gear.
 
Larkham was quick to sidestep questions regarding team selection, saying, “We're going to see how they train, how the combinations work and make that decision later in the week.
 
"There are plenty of options for Patty [McCabe], he's played every position in the backline bar 10."
 
Toomua said they are expecting a tough defensive challenge in Dunedin.
 
"Threats all over the park," he said.
 
"[Nonu] is obviously a big guy but he throws a lot of cut out passes, has got good footwork and has all the skill sets.
 
"You just have to defend as a unit. If you rush out on him you make it a one-on-one which is not what you want with him."

AAP

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