O'Connor, who turned 25 on Wednesday, flies over to Scotland with the Irish squad today - fighting fit for his RBS Six Nations debut at Murrayfield.
The Galway man's third cap in all, following an up-and-down effort in November's 21-19 defeat of Argentina, will offer him an ideal opportunity to copper-fasten the openside berth and a showcase for his burgeoning breakdown talents and heavy-hitter reputation.
"I''m really looking forward to it - sure, I was disappointed to lose my place in the squad for the Italy game, but that's the way it is with Ireland, and I wouldn't have it any other way,'' claimed O'Connor - who lined out for his club in last Sunday's 29-28 Zurich Premiership loss at Newcastle.
''Denis has been playing really well and I can't complain - competition is good, and it makes you work harder for your opportunity.
''I know what I have to do on Saturday - the breakdown will be key. It's a big part of my game. The Scots have always been good at pinching turnovers, but it will be interesting to see how the new laws are interpreted this weekend. Hopefully we can edge that battle, and come away with the win,'' he added.
With a carrot-dangling Dublin clash with his country of residence, England in the offing in two weeks' time, O'Connor is sure to up the ante in Edinburgh - and coach Eddie O'Sullivan would have it no other way.
''I've always had Johnny in mind for Scotland. We need a 'groundhog', and Johnny is exactly that, and more as well. Denis had a solid game against Italy - but he didn't make the impact he would have liked to.
''It's horses for courses, it's probably the one area of that team where we can perhaps do that with the quality of players we have there,'' commented O'Sullivan.
Johnny O'Connor (London Wasps, Ireland)
Born: Galway - 9th February, 1980Height: 5ft 11inWeight: 199lbsInternational Caps: 2Points: 0Debut: South Africa, 2004