The Courier-Mail

O’Con­nor sees Reds in at­tack

- JIM TUCKER

MATT O’Con­nor’s will­ing­ness to take on the role of backs coach af­ter be­ing by­passed for the top job has added healthy heat to the Red’s coach­ing mix.

The per­form-or-else vibe is ev­ery­where for head coach Richard Graham.

It can­not es­cape any­one that Graham is on a one-year ex­ten­sion to work some magic while as­sis­tants O’Con­nor (pic­tured) and Nick Stiles (for­wards) are on three-year deals.

Both are qual­ity al­lies in the high-per­for­mance re­struc­ture at the Reds but also po­ten­tial head coach op­tions if the bold back­ing of Graham mis­fires.

Sacked as head coach by Ir­ish club Le­in­ster in May, for­mer Wal­laby cen­tre O’Con­nor, 44, missed out to Graham when ap­ply­ing to be head coach at the Reds.

All thwarted head coach ap­pli­cants, with a backs back­ground, such as O’Con­nor and for­mer Wal­laby Tim Lane, were asked if they wanted to ap­ply for the at­tack coach role.

Both did and O’Con­nor got it. Im­por­tantly, he in­jects more than 15 years of coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and what worked in tro­phy suc­cess when at English club Le­ices­ter (2009-13) and Le­in­ster (2013-15).

“Bal­ly­more is one of the true rugby cen­tres in Aus­tralia that still ex­ists,” he said. “It’s ex­cit­ing to join an or­gan­i­sa­tion with such great rugby pedi­gree, history and tra­di­tion.”

O’Con­nor will have plenty to do. Only the Blues and Western Force squeezed fewer tries from their at­tack (32) in 16 games this year.

“Ton­gan Thor” Taniela Tupou is re­serve prop for Queens­land Coun­try’s clash against Bris­bane City in the Na­tional Rugby Cham­pi­onship in Toowoomba to­mor­row. HOSTS Eng­land have been booted from their spa­cious home dress­in­groom at Twick­en­ham and told they can­not wear white for their World Cup opener.

One of the World Cup’s lit­tle-known tra­di­tions is the team man­agers’ meet­ing and the mass coin toss to de­cide “home” team at all venues which are deemed neu­tral at the tour­na­ment. In a de­li­cious touch, the fly­ing Fi­jians, the only other top in­ter­na­tional side to wear white, won the toss and have taken the home dress­in­groom for Septem­ber 18 and the white jersey rights.

Mer­ci­fully, the English are not in­flict­ing another black, grey or pur­ple jersey hor­ror on the world as their away strip. It will be straight red.

In­trigu­ingly, the Wal­la­bies won the toss but pre­ferred to take the fa­mil­iar visi­tors’ dress­ing room for their big pool clash against Eng­land.

FOR­MER Wal­la­bies backs coach Jim McKay, an un­for­tu­nate ca­su­alty when the Ewen McKen­zie em­pire folded last year, is head­ing to the World Cup af­ter all. McKay is at­tack coach for Tonga.

JAMES Hor­will, Scott Hig­gin­botham and Nic White are not the only qual­ity play­ers hurt­ing at be­ing cut from World Cup squads.

Try this for an Out­casts XV of un­lucky non-se­lec­tions, be­cause this com­bined side would make the quar­ter-fi­nals.

 ??  ?? FLY­ING HIGH: Sean McMa­hon is back where he be­longs. Picure: ARU Media
FLY­ING HIGH: Sean McMa­hon is back where he be­longs. Picure: ARU Media
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