Saturday, May 17, 2008
On Friday night in Perth young James O'Connor sparked one of the most amazing comebacks you'll see as he got on the score sheet for his very first Super rugby try, remarkably at the age of just 17.
The away team the Brumbies were leading the Force by 22-0 at one stage, and it looked as though one more try from them would surely see the floodgates open.
But through teenager James O'Connor they scored the try that began the comeback of all comebacks, seeing them come out eventual winners 29-22.
O'Connor's try itself was regulation quality finishing, but extraordinary simply for the fact that the boy is barely out of nappies and playing professional rugby, last week getting smashed by Ma'a Nonu and this week being up against Wallaby legend Stirling Mortlock.
He's already being tipped as the next Matt Giteau, being compared to Tim Horan, and is in the unique situation of being eligible to represent each of rugby's three southern-hemisphere powerhouses in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
His father Warren, born in Auckland, and grandfather both played high-level rugby in New Zealand. O'Connor's mother is South African and his great-grandfather went close to representing the Springboks.
There's also talk of League teams snapping him up, with him having played it until three years ago when he gave it up for rugby union. While his preference is to represent the Wallabies, the teenager is keeping his international options open.
"I'm eligible to play for the big rugby nations," said O'Connor.
"I'd like to play for the Wallabies, but I'm not ruling out anything, so we'll see what happens."