Launch of Noosa International 7's Festival. / Australia 7`s Coach Michael O`Connor. Photo Geoff Potter / Noosa News
Launch of Noosa International 7's Festival. / Australia 7`s Coach Michael O`Connor. Photo Geoff Potter / Noosa News Geoff Potter

Flanker a banker for a Wallaby cap: O’Connor

FORMER dual international Michael O'Connor has earmarked Melbourne Rebels flanker Sean McMahon as a future aaaWallaby.

The 19-year-old former Nudgee College schoolboy, previously a member of O'Connor's Australian Sevens squad, will be one of eight new faces in the Rebels team to tackle the Cheetahs in the round three Super Rugby clash at AAMI Park tonight.

"He's only a baby but he's seriously tough. He'll be a Wallaby, he loves the physical stuff," O'Connor told APN.

The man who stepped down from the helm of the Australian Sevens team earlier this week said in his opinion, the 186cm, 100kg McMahon was the best re-start player in the world in the Sevens.

"He's unbelievable at taking the ball above his head, he's the best in the world at Sevens at getting possession from re-starts," O'Connor said

Rebels forwards coach and 60-Test veteran Matt Cockbain said McMahon was physically ready for his Super Rugby initiation.

Cockbain admitted he didn't know much about McMahon prior to the pre-season, but said he had been hugely impressed by the teenager's willingness to learn about the 15-man game.

"What's impressive is his enthusiasm and aggression for the game, he just rips in," Cockbain said.

"He does a lot of technical things quite well. He's a bit of a demon at the breakdown and rips in there. He's also got an impressive ball carry.

"He's already come up against some pretty big names in the trials and hasn't been overawed," Cockbain said.

"In our trial against Queensland he held up Quade Cooper, and Quade can slip away from anyone ... we got a turnover out of the maul, so Sean's physically strong enough."

McMahon played Australian Schoolboys in 2011 and represented Australian U20s at the 2012 IRB Junior World Championships in South Africa.

He is the youngest player to represent Australia at Sevens.

McMahon admitted to being surprised when coach Tony McGahan named him at No.6 for the team's season-opener against the Cheetahs.

"I was a bit stunned, a bit nervous, there were lots of emotions, but I was mainly excited," he said.

The teenager will have his own cheer squad in the stands tonight with his mum and aunty both flying down from Queensland for the game.

"I'm really happy to have been named in the run-on side so I can get straight into it," he said.

Meanwhile, Queensland has lost inside centre Mike Harris (ankle) for tomorrow night's clash with the Waratahs in Sydney, with experienced campaigner Anthony Fainga'a taking his place in the backline.

Harris was a mysterious absentee from training yesterday before Reds coach Richard Graham revealed the star back had been sent for precautionary scans.


Melbourne Rebels v Cheetahs

At AAMI Park, 6.40pm (AEST)

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