O’Connor waiting for Cheika’s call

Date published: October 29 2014

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Kurtley Beale has given Michael Cheika enough off-field drama to address in his short time with Australia, but James O’Connor is waiting.

Kurtley Beale has given Michael Cheika enough off-field drama to address in his short time with Australia, but James O’Connor is waiting.

Playing in Toulon, O’Connor is set to return to Australia at the beginning of next year with the Reds in Super Rugby in order to make himself eligible for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

That agreement was devised under the reign of Ewen McKenzie, which unceremoniously came to an end with his resignation at the beginning of October.

O’Connor, in ripping form with Toulon and a reformed man, isn’t sure where that leaves him.

“Whatever happens, I want to be the best and work hard to make the selection for the World Cup. That is why I’m returning to Australia,” O’Connor told L’Equipe.

“I talked with Ewan McKenzie before deciding to come back and it was on track for me. Now there is a new coach. I haven’t had a call yet. But if I put in good performances for the club I could be in contention. I want to be a Wallaby again.”

Beale could do with taking note of O’Connor’s progress over the last year. The 24-year-old has turned his career around since his ARU contract was torn up, starting at London Irish in the Premiership before moving to Toulon.

Grounded off the field and impressing on it, O’Connor is relishing his time in France.

“Coming to Toulon was definitely one of my better choices. The club wants to win everything, it’s very refreshing for me to have that mindset.

“Here, we seek perfection and I haven’t always been used to that. I am happy to be at this club. Many people in rugby had an opinion about me before I came to Toulon because I had a reputation that preceded me. But here at the club, I’ve been accepted for who I am without any preconceptions. That’s why I’ve adapted quickly.

“Everything in my life is much better here. I’m happier on the field and off it. I didn’t have that before. I’ve found a lot of small things in life and French culture that have helped me to fully develop. I love my life here, it makes you want to come back…”

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