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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