Irish eyes will be on James O'Connor

Attacking ace ... James O'Connor. Source: Getty Images

ATTACKING atom James O'Connor is the quick-stepping spark who can shake the Wallabies back into top gear against an Irish side which secretly tried to poach him.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that O'Connor's management received overtures about his heritage from Ireland's Australian defence coach Les Kiss in 2008, before he had been selected for the Wallabies.

His surname may fill umpteen pages in any Irish phone book yet the lineage was too diluted - O'Connor's great-great grandfather was from Dublin - to turn into a concrete offer.

Kiss's eye for talent was spot-on because it is O'Connor's footwork and surprising power which can terrorise the Irish defence in Saturday night's Test at Suncorp Stadium.

Fullback O'Connor may still be just 19 but 2010 has shown he is now the full package - able to defend decisively in the frontline as well as dart and dazzle with the ball.

He is at 88.5kg for his 17th Test and diligent strength work fed into those runs when he pinballed through much bigger English defenders recently.

The days of being held back from the frontline because of his age and size are over, as he showed that night for Western Force at inside centre when he stood up to South Africa's Bulls as they tried to tenderise him with 108kg runner Pierre Spies.

"There was more responsibility in Super 14 and more ball-carrying into traffic which builds confidence for what I love about fullback - seeing the space and chances," O'Connor said.