O’Connor returns after six years in Wallabies wilderness

James O'Connor will play his first Test in six years with a fairytale comeback confirmed off the bench for the Wallabies against Argentina at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

O'Connor is a utility option as a reserve behind a starting team with five changes from the side which lost 35-17 to South Africa in Johannesburg last weekend.

 

James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale at Wallabies training at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale at Wallabies training at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

Christian Lealiifano will start at flyhalf in an uplifting return to the Test ranks for the first time since his fight against leukaemia.

Only a shoulder niggle prevented Lealiifano playing in Johannesburg but he indicated the depth of satisfaction with his comeback.

"It's something I never thought would happen again," he said.

"Obviously, to even play footy, but to be back in the squad is something I'm really proud of.

"I'm grateful as well that they haven't picked me just because I'm back and healthy again, they've picked me, Cheik said, on form and the way I've been playing.

"I'm really proud of that, that it's not just a token selection but has come off the back of some hard work and a lot of support in and around my family, my friends and teammates."

 

Christian Lealiifano makes an inspiring return to the Wallabies side. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Christian Lealiifano makes an inspiring return to the Wallabies side. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

 

 

Australia v Argentina at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Saturday 27 July

Wallabies team

1. Scott Sio (55 Tests)

2. Folau Fainga'a (8 Tests)

3. Sekope Kepu (104 Tests)

4. Izack Rodda (18 Tests)

5. Rory Arnold (20 Tests)

6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (12 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (c) (92 Tests)

8. Isi Naisarani (1 Test)

9. Will Genia (101 Tests)

10. Christian Lealiifano (19 Tests)

11. Marika Koroibete (20 Tests)

12. Samu Kerevi (vc) (26 Tests)

13. Tevita Kuridrani (59 Tests)

14. Reece Hodge (34 Tests)

15. Kurtley Beale (84 Tests)

Reserves

16. Tolu Latu (12 Tests)

17. James Slipper (87 Tests)

18. Taniela Tupou (12 Tests)

19. Rob Simmons (95 Tests)

20. Luke Jones (3 Tests)

21. Nic White (23 Tests)

22. Matt To'omua (43 Tests)

23. James O'Connor (44 Tests)

News Corp Australia


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