James O'Connor is a big chance to play for the Wallabies against the Pumas on Saturday night.
James O'Connor is a big chance to play for the Wallabies against the Pumas on Saturday night.

No more Tuesday night parties for James O'Connor

THE biggest indicator of James O'Connor's transformation from rugby party boy to model professional, in Wallabies veteran Will Genia's opinion, is his Tuesday nights.

Prior to O'Connor's departure from Australia six years ago, Genia noted how his teammate would use nights off to hit the town.

These days, however, it's a very different story.

"Tuesday nights, James was always out and about doing stuff because Wednesday we have off," Genia said.

"Tuesday night in the last three or four weeks that we've had, he's in his room stretching, doing what it takes in terms of recovery.

"He understands that this is a huge opportunity for him."

O'Connor has been thrown a lifeline to make up for his failed attempt to get into Australia's 2015 World Cup squad.

The 29-year-old is firmly in contention to secure his 45th Test cap on Saturday when the Wallabies host Argentina in a Rugby Championship clash at Suncorp Stadium.

After halfback Nick White's impressive return from his own Wallabies exile last weekend against South Africa, Genia believes that's the template for O'Connor to follow if he's picked to face the Pumas.

"You saw Whitey come back and play very well, hopefully it can be a similar story with James because I think he was on 44 Tests and he was so young when he left," Genia said.

"We all know how good he is and hopefully the fact he's in a better space mentally, he can be an even better player this time around."

The clash with the Pumas is Australia's last before back-to-back Bledisloe Cup Tests against New Zealand.

With games running out before this year's World Cup, Genia said it was crucial for the Wallabies to start building momentum.

A veteran of Australia's 2015 tournament, he said preparations for this year's event were all about discovering the Wallabies best combinations.

"We're in a different position in the sense that we're trying to do things differently from a game perspective," he said.

"It was really pleasing to see the way things came together the way they did on the weekend - obviously we didn't get the result which is disappointing - but trying different things and doing things a different way there's always going to be some teething problems but I think we're on track, definitely."

-AAP

News Corp Australia

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