O’Connor expects to be targeted

James O'Connor expects to be targeted by the British & Irish Lions. [more]

O’Connor expects to be targeted

James O’Connor expects to be targeted by the British & Irish Lions.

The 22-year-old appears likely to pull on the number 10 jersey for Australia during the Lions’ tour Down Under.

O'Connor has played little Test rugby in the pivotal position but impressed in the role during the Wallabies European tour.

The Melbourne Rebels star is somewhat of a throwback in today’s modern rugby, weighing in at just 88kgs and he will face a Lions side bursting with colossal backs.

And like any fly-half, O’Connor expects to bare the brunt of the tourists’ attacks.

"When you do put that 10 jersey on – if I do get the opportunity – you are always targeted there. It's the closest channel off the scrum," said O'Connor.

"It's no different to some of the big Kiwi boys, or even some of the guys we've got running around Australia.

"But they (the Lions) will be bringing that intensity and they are class players when you look at (Jamie) Roberts, (Brian) O'Driscoll and (Manu) Tuilagi."

O'Connor insists he is comfortable playing fly-half, particularly when Wallaby ace Will Genia is on the inside.

But former Australia great Mark Ella has expressed concerns over fielding O’Connor in the relatively unfamiliar position.

“The toughest road against a team like the Lions will be traffic through the midfield and if O'Connor does traumatise the Lions' defence then he will be worth his weight in gold,” Ella wrote in his column in the Australian newspaper.

“If he tries too hard to live up to the lofty expectations on him, he can also sink the Wallabies by overplaying his hand. His lack of experience guiding the Wallabies around the field should be a concern.

“If O'Connor is going to lead the charge against the Lions then he will obviously need to play much flatter to square the attack, taking a shorter and quicker pass from his halfback Will Genia.

“His centres, whomever they may be, will have to be on their toes because the last thing O'Connor will want to do is throw a pass to his inside centre who is standing too deep and running cross-field.

“Getting the No 10 to be aggressive in taking on the defensive line to commit to making the tackle is easier said than done and it can't be done in isolation. The five-eighth and numbers 10, 12 and 13 must move in unison and not hang back in order to create indecision from their opponents.”

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