Hong Kong Sevens

O'Connor in Where's Wally dilemma

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 October, 2008, 12:00am

Wally has gone walkabout - much to the dismay of keeper James O'Connor, who found himself trumped by his Wallaby teammates at the first day of training.

As tradition requires, the Australian team mascot is in the care of the youngest member of the squad. At 18, it fell upon O'Connor to take care of it night and day. But less than 24 hours after arriving in Hong Kong, the Western Force utility back was hunting high and low for Wally.

'I took Wally with me for training as it is required that I keep him by my side at all times. But someone nicked him and I haven't been able to find him,' said O'Connor yesterday.

'I'm not the first keeper of Wally to lose him, I know Berrick [Barnes] lost him a couple of times. But this is the longest time he has gone missing,' O'Connor said. 'I will have a lot of room searching to do.'

O'Connor, who played at the Hong Kong Sevens this year, will hope he can learn from this mistake quickly, and before Australia get to the French leg of their tour. Barnes, the keeper of Wally during last year's World Cup, has regaled the baby of the side with stories of the magnetic power Wally has over the French ladies.

'I heard that in France the girls love him. They also love the guys carrying the mascot. It should be good,' O'Connor said.

O'Connor will need to find Wally before Saturday's game. As tradition has it, the mascot is always placed at the halfway mark facing the side the Wallabies are attacking.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has already ruled out giving O'Connor game time in Hong Kong. But when he does get his chance, O'Connor is set to become the second youngest Wallaby since winger Brett Ford in 1957.

Until then, his main job with the squad is to look after Wally, who right now has gone Awol.