Football and Sports News

James O’Connor axed for South Africa Rugby Championship, Bernard Foley, team news, Langi Gleeson, video

James O’Connor’s Test career is in shambles after the Wallabies playmaker was dropped against the Springboks in the Rugby Championship Tests.

The 32-year-old has been called up for a second Test in Argentina, but the Reds star paid the price in the 48-17 defeat by Los Pumas.

In his place, Bernard Foley – the 32-year-old, who has spent the past three seasons playing for Kubota Spurs in Japan’s League One – has been named as one of Dave Rennie’s three choices overseas. He joins Rory Arnold and Marika Koroibete in the group.

James O'Connor has been withdrawn from the Wallabies squad to play the Springboks.  Photo: Rugby Australia
James O’Connor has been withdrawn from the Wallabies squad to play the Springboks. Photo: Rugby AustraliaSource: Submitted

Meanwhile, 21-year-old young gun Langi Gleeson of the Waratahs has been called up after impressing everyone with his dynamic and explosive work in the back row.

His selection continues a remarkable finals season in which the Waratahs’ blind side went from Shoot Shield star to World Cup fan.

He joins Reds fullback Jock Campbell as the only player in the squad to see Dave Rennie make his debut in the last nine Tests – dating back to 1947.

Langy Gleeson is a Wallabies fan. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper has been ruled out as the Waratahs’ break-up will be given extra time after he left the squad on the eve of the Rugby Championship opener in Argentina earlier this month.

Kurtley Belem was also ruled out as he returns to full health after a calf injury. The returning Waratahs star always makes a return to the Bledisloe Cup series.

In the year Rennie will welcome back a number of first-choice players for the Test against the World Championships on August 27 at Adelaide Oval.

Props Allan Alaalatoa (personal reasons), Angus Bell (ankle) and Exeter-bound Scott Sio (shoulder) return, as do props Dave Porky and Folau Fainga (hamstring).

At the back, Hunter Paysamy (Shake) and Andrew Kellaway (Dam Strong) are back and will likely be pressed for selection.

Pumas Wallabies in Argentina | 01:44

But it’s his decision to drop O’Connor that dominates the conversation.

O’Connor was picked ahead of Noah Lolesio for the second Test against Argentina last month after being dropped for the decider in Sydney last month after a poor return against England in Brisbane.

Rennie said at the time that the selection was about adding experience and leadership to a side battered by injuries in recent months.

His axing was a cruel decision, especially as the Wallis’ issues revolved around Michael Cheka Pumas’ inability to control the ball higher than anything else.

Bernard Foley is in line to play his first Test since 2019. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Indeed, O’Connor’s afternoon test in San Juan could have played out completely differently if it hadn’t been overturned for an illegal clean earlier in the crash.

However, his ax in Foley, who led the Wallabies to the World Cup final in 2015, will allow him to make a statement in the absence of Quade Cooper before struggling in 2019.

Lolesio is favored to wear the number 10 shirt against the Springboks, especially since Foley has not played since the semi-final in Japan at the end of May, but Rennie has shown that he is wide open in the playing field.

Wallabies 35-man squad for Springboks Tests

Alan Alaalato (28, Brumbies, 56 tries)

Rory Arnold (32, TBC, 30 tries)

Angus Bell (21, NSW Waratahs, 19 tries)

Jock Campbell (27, Queensland Reds, not seen)

Strong Bonds (25, Melbourne Rebels, 1 Test)

Cruising (27, Brumbies, 29 tries)

Lalakai Foketi (27, NSW Waratahs, 2 tries)

Bernard Foley (32, Kubota Spears, 71 tries)

Nick Frost (22, Brumbies, 4 tries)

Langi Gleeson (21, NSW Waratahs, Uncapped)

Jake Gordon (29, NSW Waratahs, 13 tries)

Reece Hodge (27, Melbourne Rebels, 57 tries)

Jade Holloway (29, NSW Waratahs, 2 tries)

Len Ikitau (23, Brumbies, 17 tries)

Andrew Kellaway (26, Melbourne Rebels, 14 tries)

Marika Koroibete (30, Saitama Wild Riders, 47 tries)

Rob Leota (25, Melbourne Rebels, 10 tries)

Noah Lolesio (22, Brumbies, 12 tries)

Lachlan Lonergan (22, Brumbies, 6 tries)

Tate McDermott (23, Queensland Reds, 17 Tests)

Fraser McCreight (23, Queensland Reds, 4 Tests)

Hunter Paysamy (24, Queensland Reds, 18 Tests)

Jordan Petaya (22, Queensland Reds, 20 tries)

Matt Phillips (28, Melbourne Rebels, 24 tries)

David Porecki (29, NSW Waratahs, 3 tries)

Pete Samu (30, Brumbies, 24 tries)

Scott Sio (30, Brumbies, 71 tries)

James Slipper (33, Brumbies, 119 tries)

Darcy Swain (25, Brumbies, 13 tries)

Tanila Tupu (26, Queensland Reds, 42 tries)

Rob Valletini (23, Brumbies, 23 tries)

Suliasi Vunivalu (26, Queensland Reds, 1 Test)

Nick White (32, Brumbies, 52 tries)

Harry Wilson (22, Queensland Reds, 11 Tests)

Tom Wright (25, Brumbies, 14 tries)

Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup matches

Wallabies 41, Argentina 26, Sunday, August 7 at the Malvinas Stadium, Mendoza.

The Whalers defeated Argentina 48 on Sunday at the Bicentennial Stadium in San Juan.

Wallabies v South Africa, Saturday 27 August, 3:00pm ACST at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

Wallabies v South Africa, Saturday 3 September, 7:30pm AEST at Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Wallabies v New Zealand, Thursday 15 September, 7:45pm AEST at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne.

Wallabies v New Zealand, Saturday 24 September, 5.05pm AEST at Eden Park, Auckland

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