O'Connor back for Rebels

Thu, 30 May 2013 08:51
Large james o connor rebels Large jameso connorrebelstraining Large quade cooper v james o conn Large james o connor ball

Wallaby ace James O'Connor returns for the Rebels ahead of their much-anticipated all-Australian Super Rugby derby against the Reds.

Wallaby ace James O'Connor returns for the Rebels ahead of their much-anticipated all-Australian Super Rugby derby against the Reds.

Following consecutive wins in Melbourne, the Rebels head to Brisbane on Saturday with just the one change to the starting XV.

O'Connor will start in a much anticipated return in the No.10 jersey, while Rebels rookie Bryce Hegarty will join the reserves bench.

Head coach Damien Hill stated the significance of O'Connor's return for the match, not only for Australia, but more importantly for the team.

"James was desperate to play last week, however it was in his and the team's best interest to play when the injury had not fully recovered," the coach said.

"He has been physically tested over the past 24 hours, and has shown no signs that the injury will play a factor in his performance.

"Leaving the Wallabies aside he is desperate for a win against the Reds with this group."

The Rebels will be looking for their third win in a row, and their first against the 2011 champions.

Hill suggested the wins are doing more than just unveiling new talent, but instilling confidence throughout the entire playing roster.

"We approach every season with a squad mentality," Hill said.

"Given the nature of the competition we are going to have players come in and out of the team," he added.

"With many players being unavailable in recent months, it has given players like Bryce an opportunity to step up.

"We couldn't be more pleased with how Bryce, Kimami and Stirzaker have taken their chances.

"It gives every player in the team confidence in the entire squad, and I think that is an extremely positive thing for the team."

Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Lachlan Mitchell, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Bryce Hegarty, 22 Kimami Sitauti.

Date: Saturday, June 1
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.40 (09.40 GMT)
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

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Blue Bulls v Leopards 12h15 Loftus Versfeld
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Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 11 6 0 5 30
Brumbies 11 7 0 4 29
Rebels 10 5 0 5 23
Reds 13 3 1 9 16
Force 11 2 0 9 11
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Chiefs 11 9 0 2 42
Crusaders 11 9 0 2 41
Highlanders 11 8 0 3 37
Hurricanes 11 7 0 4 36
Blues 11 6 1 4 29
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Bulls 11 7 1 3 32
Stormers 11 6 1 4 32
Cheetahs 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 1 1 9 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 11 8 0 3 37
Sharks 12 7 1 4 35
Jaguares 11 2 0 9 13
Kings 11 1 0 10 4