Deans backs O'Connor, boots 'n all - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Deans backs O'Connor, boots 'n all

Darren Walton 11/08/2011 04:15:45 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies boss Robbie Deans is backing James O'Connor to put the boot into South Africa on Saturday after retaining the youngster as first-choice goalkicker despite his off night against the All Blacks.

O'Connor missed all three of his attempts in Australia's 30-14 defeat at Eden Park last Saturday, before five-eighth Quade Cooper slotted two from two.

"Obviously James wouldn't have enjoyed his kicking performance at the weekend, but it's unusual for him. He's been kicking very well and he'll kick well again," Deans said in Durban.

"It's generally good conditions for kicking here so, no, we don't see it as an issue going forward from here."

The coach said Cooper didn't necessarily take over from O'Connor because his teammate had lost confidence.

Deans said it was planned through the week in Auckland that Cooper would take the longer-range shots at goal.

"And, off the back of those, he would be the back-up kicker," he said.

"You leave that very much to the blokes on the day, but we do discuss who is next cab off the rank."

O'Connor, under the watchful eye of Deans - a one-time Bledisloe Cup goalkicking hero for the All Blacks - looked in good touch with the boot at training on Wednesday.

And fullback Kurtley Beale, who nailed a screamer from halfway to give Australia a thrilling after-the-bell 41-39 win over South Africa in Bloemfontein last year, is also tipping O'Connor strike back this weekend.

"I don't think he's worried too much. He knows what he's got to do and I'm sure he'll fix that," said Beale, excited that the Wallabies now have the luxury of choosing between three or four goalkickers.

"We've got Quadey there as a back-up and that's the best thing - the last couple of years there was only one kicker and that was (Matt) Giteau, so I guess it's a good thing."

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