23 May 2013

Rebels' O'Connor stays on rugby sidelines

6:27 am on 23 May 2013

Anointed Australian five-eighth James O'Connor remains sidelined and will have just one match in six weeks under his belt heading into the blockbuster British and Irish Lions series.

O'Connor had been desperate to make his return from a chest injury on Friday night but the Melbourne Rebels have opted against risking him in their Super Rugby clash against the New South Wales Waratahs.

It leaves him with just next week's match against the Queensland Reds, going head-to-head with good friend Quade Cooper, as his only game practice ahead of the three-Test series against the Lions.

O'Connor has played just six games at five-eighth for the Rebels, winning just one, and has started only one Test at No.10 for the Wallabies, 18 months ago against Wales.

But coach Robbie Deans sees him as best suited to the intense challenge of the Lions.

Young gun Bryce Hegarty will start at five-eighth against the Waratahs at AAMI Park.