Video Analysis: Queensland Reds - James O'Connor

Video Analysis: Queensland Reds – James O’Connor

Video Analysis: Queensland Reds – James O’Connor

It’s hard to deny that over the last World Cup cycle Fly Half has been a problem area for the Wallabies. Injuries, indifferent form and politics all seem to have played their part in chopping and changing between 6 different players: Cooper, Barnes, Beale, Toomua, Foley and O’Connor and seven months out from the world cup, it, along with scrumhalf, remains one of the most debated positions in World Rugby.

It’s understandable, throughout the 80’s and the 90’s Australia revolutionised the role of the fly half – they became much more than simple game managers they became strike weapons, and players like Mark Ella, Michael Lynagh and Stephen Larkham demonstrated the influence a fly half could have on the attacking shape of a team.

So with it being a World Cup year I thought it’d be interesting (for me at least) to check up on the main contenders over the course of this super rugby season and lead that into a little bit of comparative analysis ahead of the Wallabies squad being selected.

First up it’s the return of the prodigal son, James O’Connor.

Now, admittedly, O’Connor is probably a bit of an outside bet for the Wallabies 10 jumper, he’s been playing mainly back three for the last year at London Irish and Toulon, but on his first start in the Queensland team he was straight into the 10 position stepping up to try and steady a rocky start to the season and while not a vintage performance it was a pretty positive hit out.

The video features clips split into “Attack” and “Defence” and to cut to the chase there is lots for Wallabies fans to be positive about in his performance. Some nice passing, some excellent defence and some brilliant open field running, but there also plenty of mistakes.

It’s a good start though, but how realistic a contender he is for the Green and Gold 10 jersey remains to be seen. I have a feeling he’ll slot in at 12 and 15 more than 10, but he’s certainly a useful weapon to have in the side and a fearsome opponent to face. As an English Rugby fan (don’t judge me) I always feel more confident when he’s not facing my team and I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of him over the next 7 months.

  • brumby runner

    Small correction Graeme. Mark Ella played 10, Glen his twin brother played 15.

    On the subject, I really think English fans rather that Aussie fans would be applauding if JOC gets to play 10 for the Wallabies.

    • cheers, I wrote this very late last night… will correct it in a bit.

  • Straith

    Good quality analysis. The things you mention are super informative and show you have a proper understanding of the game. Please make a longer video comparing Foley and Quade when Quade starts playing again and post it here because I’d love to see that.

    • the idea is to do one of these on each of the contenders, so currently: Foley, Cooper, Toomua and JOC (and anyone else if they come to the front), and then do some direct comparisons/group analysis. towards the end of the SuperXV.

      • Sape

        Even you are a pommie fan, i still consider you as a hero to all fans across the globe. You go mate.

        I know you are gettig lots of wishes, but once you have done analysis on all the aussie fly halves, fancy comparing them to say Cruden? Would be nice to see a deeper insight about this as i think the kiwis are miles ahead everyone else in the fly-half department.

        Love your work.

  • Patrick

    The thing about the mistakes is that, whilst he absolutely is one of our best one-on-one runners, seeing him make that solo play despite the overlap, and that attempt to run it back QC-style, reminded me of his time at 10 for the Rebels when it seemed like he fundamentally didn’t trust his teammates to execute, even to the point where he would run it from his own 22 and get isolated and turned over.

    But I would love to see what he can do at 12 or 15 with QC at 10..

    • PiratesRugby

      There is no doubt that he possesses some amazing individual skills. His problem is that he is not a leader. He lacks the ability to bring everyone along with him. At 11, 12, 14 or 15 he would be great. He has his job to do. At 10, he has to quarterback the offence. He just doesn’t have the leadership skills for that. And he’s a tool.

      • Mike

        Like his last game at flyhalf for Rebels against Highlanders, you mean? He was brought on at 45 minutes with his team down 31-12. Rebs then scored 4 tries with him at 10, he had a hand in all of them and threw the last pass in two of the four. Rebs won 38-37.

        Not a leader and lacks ability to bring everyone with him – riiigght…. Are you sure you actually watched their games?

  • Robbie Deans

    great analysis and a born 10.

  • Mike

    Great analysis Graeme.

    Interesting that you posited a move to 12 when Cooper returns to the Reds. I have often wondered if that may be his best position, but he has rarely played there. He asked for (and got) the 15 jersey for London Irish and Toulon. So he probably prefers that position. But I can still see the potential for 12. He’s light, about the same height and weight as Phillippe Sella. And Horan and Mauger weren’t much bigger.

    • RubberLegs

      Quade rarely passes to the 12; if JOC wants the ball he will have to move to 13.

      • Mike

        Interesting point.

  • RobC

    Thanks Graeme. He’s a good player. I wonder how he’ll fair vs Tahs.

  • Chief Watsisname

    Him thinkum and speakum big truth.


an Englishman living in France, Graeme runs the Rugby Analysis website He coaches in his spare time, is an IRB qualified coach and you can catch him on twitter lazily re-tweeting other peoples comments.

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