Teenager James O'Connor could become the second youngest player to represent Australia after being named in the Wallabies squad to tour Hong Kong and Europe.
Teenager named in Australia tour squad
SYDNEY // Teenager James O'Connor could become the second youngest player to represent Australia after being named in the Wallabies squad to tour Hong Kong and Europe in November. The 18-year-old utility back, who played four times in this year's Super 14, joined Western Force teammate David Pocock, Queensland flyhalf Quade Cooper and New South Wales prop Sekope Kepu as the four uncapped players in the 34-man squad.
"He (O'Connor) is a young man with a bright future," coach Robbie Deans said in an Australian Rugby Union (ARU) statement. "We believe he is good to go in terms of starting his development as an international player. "He has been included primarily to learn his trade, but we believe he has a lot to offer now, and will only build on that with the experience he will gain in our environment during the next two months."
The Wallabies play five Test matches on the tour, starting against New Zealand in Hong Kong on Nov 1 before facing Italy on Nov 8, England on Nov 15, France on Nov 22 and Wales on Nov 29. A match against the invitational Barbarians side at Wembley stadium in London will conclude the tour on Dec 3. Should O'Connor, who turned 18 on July 5, get a game he would become the second youngest person to play for the Wallabies.
Winger Brian Ford was 18 years, 90 days when he played against New Zealand in 1957, the ARU said. Deans has selected young players to develop squad depth before the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. "It is a great opportunity for us as a group," Deans added. "The task now is to push forward with our development as a team on what will be a challenging tour. "The players who were involved (in the Tri-Nations) have earned the right to continue with the work that they have started."
Winger Lote Tuqiri was included despite undergoing minor knee surgery last week. Scrum-half Luke Burgess, inside centre Berrick Barnes and loose forward Wycliff Palu were recalled after missing the conclusion of the Tri-Nations due to injuries. Experienced forwards Rockie Elsom and Dan Vickerman were not considered after they decided to move overseas following the Tri-Nations. *Reuters