He managed to be picked by former head coach Michael Cheika and played his part in their journey to the quarter-finals.
However, despite his role with the national side the utility-back has a point to prove back in his homeland at club-level and is being tasked with helping the Reds reach the knock–out stages of the competition for the first time in seven seasons.
As well as that he has to impress incoming Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie, who takes over in the summer, handing O’Connor another clean slate.
Elsewhere in the Reds squad he is joined by fellow Wallabies Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Taniela Tupou and Liam Wright, while star duo Izack Rodda and Jordan Petaia have been rested along with new signing Henry Speight.
Despite a number of high-profile names on either side of the pitch on Friday there is no doubt that all eyes will be on O’Connor, who will need to produce if he wants to feature in the team’s opening Super Rugby game against the Brumbies in a couple of week’s time.
Brumbies Mumps Outbreak Confirmed
Rugby Australia have confirmed that Super Rugby side the Brumbies have been hit with a mumps outbreak ahead of their next game
The franchise have announced that a number of cases have been confirmed among both players and staff, with Rugby Australia and SANZAAR coming in to help with the situation.
It has been decided following consultation with ACT Health that only players and staff members that are completely free of mumps will be allowed to travel to the game this weekend.
Players that hope to be involved in the clash against the early leaders of this year’s competition will have to prove immunisation or if they have in fact suffered from mumps they will have to have spent a minimum of five days in isolation.
The outbreak comes on the back of the side having to make late changes to their line-up ahead of their round three match against the Highlanders when both Darcy Swain and Irae Simone being left out late on due to illness.
All three of their opening opponents so far in the campaign have been contacted and as of now there have been no further cases reported.
It is a major blow to the side as they look to cause an upset and beat the chiefs, but now look likely to have less players to pick from than usual.
Wallabies Ace has Season Ended Already
One of the Wallabies hottest prospects has had his season cut short due to injury
The 19-year-old missed Sunday’s game with the Jaguares following a shoulder injury he picked up in training when making a tackle.
The extent of the injury was unknown at that stage, but is has now been confirmed that he will have to undergo surgery on his shoulder which will leave him out of action until after the end of the current Super Rugby campaign.
It is a major set-back for Petaia who missed the most-part of last season also with a foot injury.
Big things are expected from the youngster, with both seasons set to be his breakthrough year, especially this season following the departure of star centre Samu Kerevi, meaning he looked likely to play a key role in the starting line-up.
Last year he bounced back from injury to edge his way into Michael Cheika’s Australian Rugby World Cup squad, making his debut during the tournament and going on to become a starter by the end of their campaign.
This latest injury also casts doubts over his availability for the Wallabies summer fixtures in which he was hoping to impress incoming head coach Dave Rennie.
The hope will be that he can get back into action as soon as possible, but it is a cruel blow for a player primed for big things.
All Blacks Ace Signs New Contract
The All Blacks have secured the services of one of their top stars for the foreseeable future after he agreed a new deal
The 22-year-old has agreed a contract extension until 2022 after he had a breakthrough last season, after being initially brought in by the Crusaders as a back-up before becoming a key member of the squad and being handed a full-time contract.
He went on to finish as the top try-scorer in last year’s Super Rugby campaign as he notched up 15 tries and he said that the decision to extend was a no brainer.
“2019 was a surreal season for me with the Crusaders and All Blacks, so it was an easy decision to extend my time with the Crusaders club and continue to push for higher honours. I’m loving my rugby at the moment and have had the opportunity to work with some amazing players and coaches, who have inspired me on and off the field. I’m really looking forward to what the 2020 season has in store,” he said.
With the help of Reece the Crusaders managed to secure a third successive Super Rugby title and head coach Scott Robertson is looking forward to having him on board for a bit longer.
“Sevu is a special player, and we’re excited that he’s extended his time with the Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby. He was our 2019 Rookie of the Year, who slotted into our environment seamlessly and took Super Rugby by storm with an outstanding debut season. I’m excited to work with him again this season and watch him go from strength to strength,” he said.
Reece’s form for the franchise led to a call-up to the All Blacks and he has gone on to win a total of seven caps for the Kiwis, scoring four tries to date and being included in their Rugby World Cup squad last year.
It is a big boost for both the national side and his franchise as they look to compete for further honours in the coming years, but first up for Reece and the Crusaders is a visit to face the Chiefs in round two of this year’s Super Rugby as they attempt to make it four titles in a row.
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