Wallabies-and-Boks combo excites O'Connor
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Australia utility back James O’Connor admits he is hugely excited at the prospect of linking up for Sale Sharks alongside fellow newcomer South Africa scrumhalf Francois De Klerk.
South African scrumhalf De Klerk has made a huge impact on the Premiership over the first month of the campaign since his season move to Sale, producing a series of man-of-the-match displays for the club.
O’Connor, whose recovery from summer surgery on his ankle means he has yet to make his bow for Sale, has looked on in admiration along with everyone else as De Klerk had adapted to life in England in superb fashion.
And, ahead of Friday’s Premiership home game with Gloucester the Australian play-maker, who moved to Sale on a three-year deal from Toulon in the summer, says he is hugely excited about the thought of dovetailing with Faf.
"Faf's a very talented guy and a real character as well,” said James. "I think the biggest thing for me thinking about playing as a 10 alongside Faf is that he controls the game beautifully.
"South African scrumhalves are some of the best in the world.
"They are very chirpy and control the guys around the field very well and the beautiful thing is that Faf obviously listens to the game plan - if he sees something, he can take that opportunity.
"He’s got the speed and the footwork, he’s got the passing game and as we saw against Newcastle and Irish, he’s got the kick too to be able to find space and really dominate the game,"
O’Connor has had to be patient over the first few weeks of the campaign as he regained full fitness after undergoing ankle surgery over the summer.
But having got some crucial work under his belt on and off the training field over the past fortnight, the 27-year-old says he is eager to make up for lost time.
"The fact that I was injured when I arrived here is a bit like what the French say: ‘C’est la vie. It’s life and is a part of rugby," James added.
"There are positive moments and there are negatives too.
"If you’re enjoying yourself and throwing yourself into training and being part of the group which I’ve done here, it’s a great vibe.
"There is so much going on both on the field and away from the pitch in the team activity room and everyone is keen to head out for a tea or coffee.
"So it’s keeping my mind ticked over and I’m not frustrated at all. I’ve been training with the team over the past week or so and I felt pretty good so I’m looking forward to getting out there and trying to help the team,"