O'Connor hamstrung for Rebels return

Last updated 20:12 20/06/2012

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Wallabies star James O'Connor has recovered from liver damage but is battling a hamstring injury ahead of the Melbourne Rebels' clash with Super Rugby champions Queensland.

O'Connor was given the green light from his specialist to resume contact training with scans confirming his lacerated liver, suffered last month playing against NSW, had healed well.

But the Test star's presence for the Rebels' final home game this season on June 29 at AAMI Park - which will be retiring Melbourne skipper Stirling Mortlock's Australian farewell - depends on whether he can overcome a hamstring injury he sustained training with the Wallabies.

O'Connor ran at Melbourne training on Wednesday but didn't participate in the intra-club game the Rebels held at Visy Park during the three-week Super Rugby hiatus.

"He's still a good chance for us for the Reds which is pleasing," said Rebels coach Damien Hill.

"He got clearance from the scans but the hamstring's still not 100 per cent.

"James is one of those naturally fit players so his fitness shouldn't be a problem."

Utility back Mark Gerrard also has a hamstring injury and sat out the match.

The Rebels have one player away on Australian duty in Kurtley Beale, with winger Cooper Vuna cut from the squad to face Wales in the final Test on Saturday although he's still yet to return to Melbourne training.

Vuna had a mixed experience with the Wallabies, making his Test debut and playing in two Test victories.

However he made a costly blunder in game two when he was yellow-carded for a clumsy tackle on Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny.

He escaped suspension when the judiciary found a "lack of intent" but still had to make way after the return of Beale from injury pushed Adam Ashley-Cooper from fullback to the wing.

Hill was yet to speak to Vuna but hoped the league convert could see the positives from his experience.

"He's experienced some tremendous highs and now a low being excluded from the squad but it's a fantastic experience for him and I hope he's focusing on the positives of it and he's been given some good feedback on what he needs to do to get back up there," said Hill.

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- AAP

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