Forget friendship. Melbourne Rebels five-eighth James
O'Connor says he's out to destroy Queensland's Quade Cooper
in their Super Rugby clash.
Stand-in skipper O'Connor will lead the Rebels against the
Reds at AAMI Park on Friday night and says there's no chance
of his going soft on great mate Cooper.
Revved up after their final training session, O'Connor said
playing against his Wallabies teammate only made him go
"When it comes to 7.40pm I've got 21 other brothers and he
won't be a mate of mine," said O'Connor.
"He's (Cooper) physically looking pretty good.
"I know he's feeling pretty good so it's our job to destroy
Melbourne coach Damien Hill said shutting down the enigmatic
Cooper was integral to his side breaking through for their
first ever win over Queensland.
"Quade's been instrumental to how they have been playing,"
"The Reds rely heavily upon him at the moment for their
direction and that spark."
O'Connor has shifted to No.10 in the absence of the injured
Kurtley Beale, with rookie Gus Roberts making his debut at
With Beale absent on Wallabies duty during the pre-season
O'Connor said he already had a strong combination training
Hill was impressed how the 22-year-old had so far handled the
"It's like he's been playing for 10 years because he's been
very composed," Hill said.
"He's a very intelligent young man and knows his role inside
and out and the team have a lot of confidence in him."
Hill didn't feel Queensland had lost anything with their
selection of young halfback Nick Frisby for his run-on Super
The Reds have also opted for Jono Lance at fullback, with
fringe Wallaby Luke Morahan seemingly out of favour and
unable to even make the 22.
Australian under-20 utility Frisby will replace Ben Lucas at
No.9 while Lance last started in the custodian's role in the
2011 title decider against the Crusaders.
Wallabies centre Anthony Faingaa has also returned from five
weeks sidelined with a hand injury to further bolster the
Queensland coaching boss Ewen McKenzie said Lance's
"stand-out" efforts for the Reds College in their 24-3 win
over Tonga A also warranted selection.
Halfback Lucas has been cleared of the shoulder injury he
sustained in the 18-12 win over the Hurricanes but will come
off the bench after only playing a restricted role at
Injured Wallaby No.9 Will Genia is expected to return next
week against the Western Force.
Queensland Reds: Jono Lance, Dom Shipperley, Anthony Faingaa,
Ben Tapuai, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Nick Frisby; Jake
Schatz, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk, Ed O'Donoghue, Rob Simmons,
James Slipper, Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes. Res: James Hanson,
Albert Anae, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Radike Samo, Ben Lucas,
Mike Harris, Chris Feauai-Sautia.