20 Aug 2011

O'Connor set to face Wallabies suspension

9:02 am on 20 August 2011

The Wallabies wonder boy James O'Connor faces the chop from next Saturday's Bledisloe Cup showdown with the All Blacks in Brisbane after apparently sleeping in and missing a vital team meeting in Sydney.

The Australian Rugby Union has asked the 21-year-old match-winner to explain his absence from Thursday's Rugby World Cup squad announcement at Sydney airport.

Officials at the time of the announcement merely said O'Connor "was unable to be here" when Australia's 30-man squad was revealed, but it is understood the classy utility back is facing a suspension that could threaten his place in the Wallabies' first-choice World Cup line-up.

O'Connor was one of the heroes of the Wallabies' breakthrough 14-9 victory over the Springboks last weekend in Durban, slotting three penalty goals in Australia's first back-to-back Test win in South Africa in 48 years.

But his blemished record, having been fined "several" thousand dollars for his involvement in a food fight in a Canberra team hotel in 2009, could count against him when selectors pick a team to face New Zealand for next weekend's potential Tri Nations decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Should O'Connor be stood down, selectors would face a quandary with Lachie Turner - who was overlooked for a World Cup spot this week - the only fully fit winger available as a replacement.

Coach Robbie Deans may have to call up returning outside centre Rob Horne and shift Adam Ashley-Cooper to the wing.