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Wallabies call up Davies for injured O’Connor

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Reds Super Rugby winning winger Rod Davies has been called up for Australia’s Wallabies in place in injured James O’Connor against Samoa.


The 22-year-old Davies was drafted in from outside the squad to join the starting XV as a replacement for O’Connor on the eve of Sunday’s one-off test against Samoa.


Davies was the star of the Reds Super 15 semifinal win over the Blues earlier this month, scoring three tries to help the Reds reach the Super rugby final for the first time in the professional era.


He followed it up with a solid performance in the 18-13 grand final win over the the seven-time Crusaders last weekend, a victory he barely got time to celebrate because the Australian squad went almost immediately into camp.


“My goal at the start of the year was to have a good Super rugby campaign and get selected in this 40-man squad, but to make my run-on test debut was just a dream,” he said, “and it’s come true.”


For Davies, who staged a stunning comeback from a knee injury this season and missed out on test calculations last season due to a hamstring problem, O’Connor’s hamstring strain was his gain.


“Obviously it’s happened now and I’m just going to run with it,” Davies said Saturday after the Wallabies practiced at the Olympic Stadium ahead of the match.


Davies’ pace has gained most attention this season, particularly against Auckland, when he scored a long-distance intercept try and also chimed into the backline and exploded into a gap to score another among his hat-trick.


“I guess it can bring a little bit of an x-factor there, but obviously guys … are as quick as me and have got skills as well,” Davies said.


“So I’ve got to work on a lot of other parts of my game. I don’t want to be known as a guy with out-and-out speed. I want to be known for a bit more than that as well.”


Davies is one of three Australians who’ll make their test debuts against Samoa, joining scrumhalf Nick Phipps and lock Sitaleki Timani who were named in the original starting lineup.


Australia enters its season-opening test with a below-strength squad due to injuries and the need to rest some weary Queensland Reds after a long Super rugby campaign, but coach Robbie Deans said every test match counted for selection.


Davies “had his frustrations through Super Rugby, but he got back in shape and contributed significantly through the playoffs,” Deans said.


“He’ll want to turn this opportunity into becoming a regular test player.


“To do that, clearly you’ve got to be good for every element of the game and he’ll be willing to show that he is.”


Revised Wallabies team


15. Mark Gerrard , 14. Rod Davies, 13. Adam Ashley Cooper , 12. Pat McCabe , 11. Digby Ioane , 10. Matt Giteau , 9. Nick Phipps , 8. Ben McCalman , 7. Matt Hodgson , 6. Rocky Elsom (captain) , 5. Nathan Sharpe , 4. Sitaleki Timani , 3. Ben Alexander , 2. Stephen Moore , 1. Sekope Kepu


Replacements: 16. James Hanson , 17. TBA , 18. Dan Vickerman , 19. Scott Higginbotham , 20. Beau Robinson , 21. Will Genia , 22. Kurtley Beale

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