O’Connor set for Queensland debut after false start
FORMER Wallaby James O'Connor is confident he will make his long-awaited debut for the Queensland Reds in Friday night's match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Named at flyhalf for the round-two clash with the Western Force, O'Connor was ruled out after failing a pre-match fitness test that included 30 minutes of goalkicking.
He later took to Twitter to say he had "tweaked" his knee at training on Thursday, but should be "good to go" this week.
Coach Richard Graham would almost certainly start O'Connor in the No.10 jersey in Dunedin, and become the third player to fill the role in three weeks after Karmichael Hunt played there in round one, and Nick Frisby (pictured) received a late call-up against the Force.
Frisby, who had not started a game at flyhalf in the past five years, stepped up admirably but is likely to be preferred on the bench.
With 14 players on the injured list, Graham will be desperately hoping captain James Slipper (head) and former skipper James Horwill (hand) will be available to take on the Highlanders after being forced off early against the Force.
The coach would have been thrilled with the effort of former All Blacks back-rower Adam Thompson on Saturday night in his Reds debut after missing the opening round with a shoulder complaint.
Thompson will be returning to familiar ground in Dunedin - he spent seven seasons on the Highlanders roster from 2006.
The Western Force also has a short turnaround before taking on the unbeaten Hurricanes in Perth on Friday night.
After downing the Lions 22-8 in Johannesburg in round one, the Hurricanes followed up with a hard-fought 17-13 win against the Bulls in Pretoria, the first time the Wellington-based franchise has won two games in a row in South Africa since 2006.
It was also the first time since 2010 the team had opened a season with two wins, although new coach Chris Boyd wasn't "terribly happy". "We've been too inaccurate," he said.
Super Rugby ROUND 2 scores
CHIEFS 19 (C Ngatai try; A Cruden 3 pens, con) BRUMBIES 17 (I Vaea try; C Lealiifano 3 pens, N White pen) in Hamilton on Friday night
WARATAHS 38 (S Hoiles, T Naiyaravoro, T Naiyaravoro, K Beale tries, B Foley 3 cons, 3 pens, K Beale pen) REBELS 28 (S Higginbotham, L Timani, L Burgess, S Naivalu tries; M Harris 4 cons) in Melbourne on Friday night
HURRICANES 17 (J Savea try; B Barrett 4 pen) BULLS 13 (H Pollard try; H Pollard 2 pen, con), in Pretoria on Saturday morning
CRUSADERS 26 (S Barrett, J McNicholl tries; C Slade 2 cons, 4 pens) HIGHLANDERS 20 (A Smith, M Fekitoa tries; L Sopoaga 2 cons, 2 pens) in Dunedin on Saturday night
REDS 18 (penalty try, L Turner try; L Turner con, 2 pens) WESTERN FORCE 6 (S Ebersohn 2 pens) in Brisbane on Saturday night
SHARKS 29 (M Coetzee 2, O Ndungane, C Reinach tries; P Lambie 3 cons, pen) LIONS 12 (M Boshoff 4 pens) in Durban yesterday
STORMERS 27 (N Groom, D Leyds tries; D Catrakilis con, 4 pens; K Coleman pen) BLUES 16 (J Cowan try; I West con, 3 pens) in Cape Town yesterday