O’Connor leaves Reds for Europe

Date published: October 13 2015

James O'Connor has left the Queensland Reds with immediate effect after being released from his contract for personal reasons.

The 25-year-old utility back had a season still to run on his deal, which he signed ahead of the 2015 season, but will instead return to Europe where he will likely return to Toulon, for whom he played six months last season.

O'Connor had hoped to break back into the Wallaby squad ahead of the World Cup after returning to Australia but was left out by Michael Cheika after a difficult Super Rugby season.

O’Connor said in a statement: "I came to the Reds with the intention of playing my best football in my home state and looking for a fresh start but I’ve struggled with some personal matters.

"The Reds are a wonderful team and organisation and I’m very disappointed I wasn’t able to achieve my full potential for my home state. I wish the Reds all the best for 2016 and beyond."

QRU CEO Jim Carmichael explained: "James has experienced a difficult time personally since returning to Australia and we’ve been aware of that for some time.

"It is disappointing that James was not able to reach his full potential while he was with us but after a great deal of thought, we believe it is in his and the Reds’ best interests that we exercise our release clause in his contract.

"Therefore, James will return to Europe where he feels the spotlight on him is less intense. In our discussions, we’ve agreed that should James return to Australia to play rugby in the future, the Reds will have the first and last rights to secure his services."

Finally Rugby Union Players Association CEO Ross Xenos said: "James’ willingness to be proactive and speak to the Reds and RUPA regarding matters that too often are supressed until it is too late are testament to his development and maturing.

"James is a player of enormous talent and we all hope he will benefit from time and space out of the spotlight to return to Australian Rugby in the future.

"In releasing James, the Reds have clearly shown their commitment to the welfare of their people and credit to them for their leadership and understanding."