O’Connor eyes centre spot

One of the potential stars of the 2013 Lions tour is hoping to feature in a new position by the time Britain and Ireland's elite come calling. [more]

O’Connor eyes centre spot

One of the potential stars of the 2013 Lions tour is hoping to feature in a new position by the time Britain and Ireland’s elite come calling.

Wallaby sensation James O’Connor has predominantly been employed at wing or full back since breaking on to the Test scene in 2010 but the 21-year-old is eyeing a permanent switch to inside centre.

And with fly-half Quade Cooper facing at least six months out with ACL damage and Berrick Barnes expected to move to 10, O’Connor could be battling it out with Pat McCabe for the No12 shirt when the Wallabies face the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 26.

"It's no secret I want to play 12. I want to get closer to the action and get my hands on the ball," said O'Connor, who is currently his country’s first-choice goal kicker but is too often a peripheral figure for his own liking.

''I'm happy to play on the wing, bide my time, but I'll be putting my hand up now, depending on how Quadey's going.

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''Hopefully he'll have a speedy recovery because he's not just a good mate of mine, but a massive asset to our team. But if the circumstances are such that he misses the spring tour then I'll definitely be putting my hand up.

"Every Test in the jersey means a lot. I'm pretty happy to have that goal-kicking role. It keeps me involved in the game as much as possible.

"For me it's about developing my game. But no matter what happens, I guess I'll be putting my hand up for one of those inside jobs."

With Matt Giteau’s international career apparently at an end after he was left out of the 30-man World Cup squad, only the inexperienced McCabe, who is currently suffering with a shoulder problem, seems to be standing in O’Connor’s way of getting his ultimate wish.

Anthony Fainga’a and Rob Horne are further options for head coach Robbie Deans but both favour the outside centre berth.

And having signed for the Melbourne Rebels next season on the premise that he will be employed in midfield rather than out wide, O’Connor could well be Australia’s first-choice 12 when the new Four Nations comes around next summer.

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