I’m comfortable at 10: O’Connor

James O'Connor has reiterated his desire to wear the Wallaby fly-half jersey against the Lions this summer despite criticism from former Aussie greats. [more]

I’m comfortable at 10: O’Connor

James O’Connor has reiterated his desire to wear the Wallaby fly-half jersey against the Lions this summer despite criticism from former Aussie greats.

Tim Horan and Stirling Mortlock both claimed that O’Connor would be best employed on the wing for the three-Test series against Warren Gatland’s squad after they questioned his ability to control a game at the highest level.

O’Connor has spent most of his Test career on the wing and much of the current Super Rugby season at full back but he has dismissed talk of his inexperience at outside-half and is adamant that the playmaking role comes naturally to him.

"I've played 10 in that ball-playing role since I started playing rugby, even back to my rugby league days," said O'Connor, who confirmed that Wallaby coach Robbie Deans is considering handing him the pivotal role against Britain and Ireland’s elite.

"It's sort of second nature to where I feel most comfortable.

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"My conversations with Robbie is that he likes me in that 10 position and also on the wing. I feel very comfortable in both those positions."

O’Connor was among three possible fly-halves named in Deans’ 30-man squad for a logistical training camp that began on Sunday, with Waratahs veteran Berrick Barnes and uncapped Brumbies star Christian Leali’ifano also in the running.

Deans overlooked O’Connor’s close friends and the most recent men to have worn the Wallaby No10 shirt, Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper, for the latest gathering but the 22-year-old insists the pair will bounce back.

Beale was suspended indefinitely for an alcohol-fuelled altercation with team-mates on the Rebels’ recent tour of South Africa and Cooper still appears to have some way to go to mend bridges after his public outburst in which he described the Wallaby camp as ‘toxic’ in 2012.

O’Connor knows the two high-profile stars better than most, though – the trio are often described as ‘the three amigos’ – and he believes they will push each other on to bigger and better things in the lead up to the Lions series.

"I've been speaking to Kurtley a fair bit, he's in a good head space," added O'Connor.

"He's training very hard. From all accounts he's looking pretty fit.  He said he's going to give me a run for my money in my skin folds!

"I've got to work my way into the team first – it's not a given. I've been out (of the Wallaby side) for a year (with a hamstring injury) and there are other guys who are playing some great footy as well, so there's a lot to be done and a lot of form to be hit first.

"The more we can push each other to get those starting positions to make the team better – it's going to be big trouble for the Lions."

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