O'Connor v Cooper in Wallaby duel

Thu, 30 May 2013 13:34
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Coach Robbie Deans' choice of James O'Connor over Quade Cooper as Wallaby flyhalf against the B&I Lions goes under scrutiny on Saturday.

Coach Robbie Deans' choice of James O'Connor over Quade Cooper as Wallaby flyhalf against the British and Irish Lions goes under scrutiny when the pair face off in this weekend's Super Rugby.

Deans preferred O'Connor and left 38-capped incumbent Cooper out of his preliminary squad for the Lions Tests, citing a lack of assertiveness from the Queensland Reds playmaker and part-time boxer.

Cooper will get the ideal platform to prove Deans wrong when he lines up against O'Connor for the Reds against the Melbourne Rebels in Brisbane on Saturday.

The Reds must beat the in-form Rebels to keep the heat on Australian conference leaders the Brumbies.

O'Connor missed the Rebels' rousing wins over the Stormers and Waratahs with a chest injury and he desperately needs game time at No.10 before next month's Lions Test series.

The Reds, trailing the Brumbies by five points, will be looking to test O'Connor in front of a pro-Cooper home crowd.

"Who doesn't send traffic at the No.10?" Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said.

"Everyone does that, there's no surprises there.

"There are opportunities and we'll look to see if we can exploit them."

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