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Qantas Wallabies trounce rugby's Barbarians 60-11

  
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28/11/2011
By AAP .


James O'Connor used flamboyant playmaker Quade Cooper's game as the blueprint for his sterling maiden outing for the Wallabies at fly half.

The elusive 21-year-old tormented the Barbarians in Australia's record 60-11 victory at Twickenham before next Saturday's date with a formidable Wales side in Cardiff.

The Melbourne Rebels recruit revealed that during the week, he tapped into the mind of his good mate Cooper, who is recovering from a serious knee injury.

"I am always in contact with Quade," he said.

"I bounced a lot of ideas off him.

"I guess a lot of my game at 10 and 12, I have taken a lot of it out of his game.

"He attacks the line and there are not too many players that can do what he can do. So you try to emulate that as much as possible."

With the Australian forwards on top, O'Connor enjoyed a day out against his opposite number and Rebels teammate Danny Cipriani.

O'Connor suffered a bruised hand in the first half at Twickenham but was cleared to play next week at the Millennium Stadium.

His display at No.10 on Saturday should surely be enough to keep Berrick Barnes at inside centre, that is if Barnes is fit to play next weekend following a heavy knock to his back.

O'Connor's match wasn't flawless. He had a pass deep in attack intercepted by Barbarians centre Robert Fruean and messed up another try-scoring opportunity in the first half.

However his ability to shed tackles and offload caused an experienced lineup no end of grief and demonstrated why he has been slated as Australia's long-term No.12.

"Stuff happens and you just have to get over it," O'Connor said following his 20-point performance, which included eight from nine with the boot.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans labelled the first-up performance in the new position as "impressive".

However, he added his charge had to sharpen up his passing after coming in from the wing.

"He is not that different (to Quade) but they are their own men," Deans said.

"But they both demand of the defence and James' passing was pretty good.

"That is going to be the toughest thing for him to bring to Test rugby because there is so much less time and space.

"There was one instance where we got found out but there was some great play."

Considering the match was the start of a two-week tour and only five weeks after the World Cup, the Wallabies showed a distinct sharpness in their efforts on Saturday compared to their opposition.

For Cipriani, the match had been a chance to show England selectors of his wares following the nation's shambolic World Cup campaign.

However, a disastrous pass with his back to the defence near his own line summed up his dirty day as Wallabies centre Rob Horne accepted the gift and scored under the posts.

Meanwhile, if Barnes' condition does not improve, Queensland Reds inside centre Ben Tapuai will make his Test debut alongside O'Connor next weekend.

If Tapuai does play, he and O'Connor have the benefit of having played together at schoolboys level in Queensland.

No.8 Ben McCalman is expected to recover from an eye infection and replace the uncapped Dave Dennis in the starting lineup for Welsh great Shane Williams' emotional finale.