O'Connor vs Beale
Rebels utility back James O'Connor has revealed that he is determined to battle Kurtley Beale for the Super Rugby franchise's number 10 jersey.
O'Connor was ruled out of the Wallabies' end-of-year tour to Europe with a troublesome hamstring even though he came agonisingly close to being included in coach Robbie Deans' squad.
"I've been running at 100 per cent but there was something that didn't feel right and I got a scan which showed some swelling and bleeding," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
The latest injury setback means O'Connor won't play again until early in February rather than risk any long-term damage especially with the British and Irish Lions' tour of Australia looming.
"It's been tough because I thought I'd be back but I think it's the right decision," he said.
O'Connor admits that he fancies the fly-half role with the Melbourne-based outfit but is also prepared to play at inside centre, wing or full-back.
He knows, however, that Beale has impressed in the pivot position for the Wallabies recently and will also be keen to start in the Rebels' number 10 jersey.
"There will definitely be some competition," said O'Connor.
"I think I play best in the team where there's two ball-players - no more because then it gets a bit clouded.
"Kurtley's been playing really well at 10 but I'll definitely be pushing for that position and I think we'll fit in quite nicely in a 10-15 combo or 10-12 combo."
Apart from the duo the Rebels will also have Wallabies scrum-half Nick Phipps and wing Cooper Vuna, who is returning from shoulder surgery, in their ranks while big centre Mitch Inman could also be challenging for higher honours next year.
"It's looking good on paper so, if we can get that connection going together, the core group is one of the best I've played in as a team so it's exciting times," O'Connor said.