x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

O'Connor looks at bigger picture

The Australia winger downplays furore and while New Zealand says photographer betrayed team, Wallabies focus on the game.

New Zealand have banned the photographer who took a picture of a sheet of team tactics being held by Graham Henry, their coach, from their remaining training sessions. The picture, which then appeared in several Australian newspapers, showed a series of back-line moves that the All Blacks hoped to use to target Matt Giteau and James O'Connor during tomorrow's eagerly anticipated Bledisloe Cup clash against the Wallabies in Melbourne. Steve Hansen, the All Blacks assistant coach, said the photographer, who was in fact from New Zealand, had betrayed the team's trust but O'Connor, the Australia winger, was keen to play down the furore yesterday.

The 20-year-old, who has enjoyed an impressive international season to date, admitted he had attempted to look at the image. "I actually saw it a little bit on Twitter so I had a look. You couldn't zoom in close enough though," he said. One of the moves shown was designed to allow Joe Rokocoko, the New Zealand winger, a one-on-one opportunity against the youngster, but O'Connor said he was unaware of that plan.

"I'm more focused on our team's preparation and my preparation leading into the game," he said. "That's the first I've heard about it so thanks for the heads up. "I've been watching [Rokocoko] since I was a junior player and he's definitely got some great talent and good speed and good footwork as well so I'm definitely looking forward to this challenge. "I haven't had too much experience marking up on Joe; I'm sort of new to the wing but I'm welcoming [the challenge] and I'm looking forward to it. Mostly it's all about my preparation. Obviously in the back of my mind I know I'm playing a great Test winger and I guess that makes you get up even more for the game."

Meanwile, Peter de Villiers, the South Africa coach, has been backed by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) after his side's dismal Tri Nations so far. "We would normally only have a review at the end of the series," Oregan Hoskins, the SARU president, said, "but this time we see the need to have one in the middle of the competition given the gravity of the situation. After three [straight] losses, we need to take stock and try to rectify the wrongs."

* Agencies