James O’Connor still believes he is best placed in the No. 10 jersey as the Wallabies weigh up a selection dilemma following an injury to Matt To’omua.
Having lost the first two games of the Bledisloe Cup, the Third Test is must-win for Dave Rennie’s side.
They will have to contend without the experienced To’omua, with a groin injury set to rule the star playmaker out for the rest of the Wallabies season.
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The loss of To’omua was an additional blow given he had formed a strong combination with O’Connor and was a solid defender in a team that missed 40 tackles in the 27-7 loss to the All Blacks.
Now attention has turned to his replacement with Irae Simone in frame for his debut at inside-centre at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
That is unless O’Connor shifts to allow Noah Lolesio to come into the starting side in the No. 10 jersey.
It is a legitimate option but one that O’Connor does not believe is in the team’s best interests.
“I feel like this is my best spot to give my all,” he said.
“I’m comfortable there now and feel like I’m bringing my own element to 10 and really enjoying it.”
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O’Connor last held the Wallabies five-eighth role in 2013 and does not want to let go of the opportunity to make the position his own just yet.
He did run out at outside centre during the Rugby World Cup campaign last year but does not have good memories from that experience, labelling it frustrating.
“It did frustrate me because I couldn’t give my all,” he said.
“I felt like I wasn’t involved as much as I would have liked. You want to go out there knowing you’ve done the job.
“I went back to the drawing board with one of my coaches and we sat down and chatted about how I could take my game forward.”
O’Connor said part of that conversation involved a potential move back to the No. 10 jumper.
It has been a long journey of self-discovery on and off the field for the 30-year old and seven years ago he ran away from the jersey he currently holds.
“I didn’t want to play 10 any more, so I moved to 15 and played a little bit on the wing,” he said.
“I always knew in the back of my mind 10 was the goal.
“I made 12 a good home for the time being. I learnt all the skills there and what I needed from my 10 and from my outside backs.”
He is not running anyway anymore.
“It’s been a natural progression as I’ve matured, using my mind more and less of my body, and I guess playing more for the team than looking as an individual,” he said.