WALLABIES UTILITY back James O’Connor faces the prospect of missing this Saturday’s Tri Nations decider against the All Blacks in Brisbane after failing to attend last week’s Rugby World Cup squad announcement.
The 21-year-old has apologised for missing the announcement last Thursday and is ready to take his punishment on the chin.
An Australian Rugby Union is currently investigating the incident and is expected to reach its verdict today.
O'Connor was reportedly spotted at one or two hotels the night before the squad announcement, but he would not reveal the reason behind his no-show.
However, he did apologise.
“I just want to express my regret as this is such an important event for the Wallabies and I would like to apologise to all the fans and my team-mates,” he told reporters.
“I let myself down, I let the fans down and I guess all the Wallabies down and the ARU as well.”
Coach Robbie Deans left no doubt about his immense disappointment on Sunday, saying there would be "likely consequences" over the unsavoury distraction to Australia's hopes of ending a 10-year Tri-Nations drought.
“Part of the game is on the field and part of the game is off the field," he says.
“If you can't rely on your mates off the field, it's very likely you won’t be able to rely on them on the field.
“It's a necessity in the function of the team (reliance).
“I don't think anyone in the group is happy. It's a distraction that we can do without.”
If O'Connor is dropped, Deans would likely hand Quade Cooper the goalkicking duties and have to reshuffle his backline for Australia's last test before the RWC.
Reserve back Anthony Faingaa comes into calculations in the centres with either Pat McCabe or Adam Ashley-Cooper likely to move onto O'Connor's vacant right wing.
Deans could also call World Cup duo Berrick Barnes or Rob Horne into his Test squad, or specialist winger Lachie Turner, but all three have been selected for the Australian Barbarians against Canada on the Gold Coast on Friday night.« Back to Archives
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