Lions 2013: Australia's James O'Connor suffers chest injury

Australia fly-half James O'Connor could be a doubt for next month's series against the British and Irish Lions after he injured his sternum.

O'Connor was hurt 20 minutes into Saturday's Super Rugby match between Melbourne Rebels and Auckland Blues.

The 22-year-old missed much of the last international season through injury.

After an MRI scan, he tweeted:  "Initial scans looking OK - nothing broken or internally damaged. Couple more scans tomorrow to tell full extent."

The Melbourne back, who can play fly-half, wing or full-back, initially continued to play after receiving treatment but was forced off minutes later after tackling Blues centre Rene Ranger.

Lions down under 2013

  • Sat 1 June v Barbarians, Hong Kong
  • Wed 5 June v Western Force, Perth
  • Sat 8 June Queensland Reds, Brisbane
  • Tue 11 June Combined NSW-Queensland, Newcastle
  • Sat 15 June NSW Waratahs, Sydney
  • Tue 18 June ACT Brumbies, Canberra
  • Sat 22 June v Australia, Brisbane
  • Tue 25 June v Melbourne Rebels, Melbourne
  • Sat 29 June v Australia, Melbourne
  • Sat 6 July v Australia, Sydney

Immediately after the game, he had tweeted:  "Painful stuff! Popped my sternum out on that kick receipt then didn't help when I got back up & had ranger with a 40m run up coming at me..."

O'Connor is tipped to start - possibly in the back three - for Australia in the Lions series which begins on 22 June, with Quade Cooper challenging hard for the 10 shirt after another impressive showing for Queensland Reds on Friday.

Another candidate at 10 and 12, Berrick Barnes, made his comeback following wrist surgery for New South Wales Waratahs, playing the final 18 minutes of their New South Wales Waratahs in their 21-15 win over the Stormers.

Waratahs wing Israel Folau, a former rugby league star and Australian Rules footballer, scored the winning try - his seventh in 11 matches since switching codes - to underline his own claims for a place against the Lions.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is due to name a 25-man squad for the series in the coming week, with a further six players to be added on 11 June.

Melbourne's Kurtley Beale, another candidate for Australia's number 10 jersey, missed Saturday's Rebels match for a breach of discipline.

Beale, 24, had only recently returned after serving a month-long ban for an incident with team-mates in South Africa.

Beale could yet face sanctions from the Australian Rugby Union, but Deans insisted Beale would be considered for selection.