Star flyhalf James O’Connor is set to miss the rest of the Super Rugby Pacific season in a crushing blow to the Queensland Reds’ title hopes.
O’Connor was less than two matches into his return from a knee injury when he was forced off with a hamstring problem in the Reds’ less-than-convincing 34-22 win over competition cellar dwellers Moana Pasifika at Suncorp Stadium last Friday night.
O’Connor’s limp was noticeable after the match, and on Monday the Reds announced the 31-year-old playmaker had suffered a low-grade hamstring injury that would sideline him for up to four weeks.
With only one week of the regular season remaining before the start of the finals series, O’Connor is all but certain to miss the remainder of the Reds’ 2022 campaign.
However, in better news for the Wallabies, O’Connor should be fit for Australia’s three-Test series against England in July provided there are no setbacks in his recovery.
O’Connor wasn’t the only Reds player injured in last week’s Queensland win, with centre Josh Flook also set to miss the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder.
“He was playing outstanding footy,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said of Flook.
“He’s a top man and he’s going to have a long future at this club.”
With Flook sidelined, Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami is set to make a timely return from a shoulder injury for the Reds this Friday night against the Crusaders.
Lawson Creighton, who deputised earlier in the season for O’Connor, again looms as the Queensland star’s likely replacement.
The Reds’ win over Pasifika snapped a four-game losing streak.
Reds captain Tate McDermott said: “It’s just an enjoyment level that we got back (last Friday night). Once we get the enjoyment back then the belief comes back.”