Rebels dump O'Connor

Date published: July 8 2013

The Melbourne Rebels have confirmed they will not be offering fly-half James O'Connor a further contract beyond the 2013 season.

The Melbourne Rebels have compounded Wallaby fly-half James O'Connor's woes at losing the deciding Test to the British and Irish Lions by confirming on Sunday they will not be offering him a further contract beyond the 2013 season.

O'Connor, who has received mixed reviews as fly-half in the Wallabies' failed series against the Lions, is now expected to move to another Australian Super Rugby team next season.

The decision to jettison O'Connor follows reports of continued ill-discipline off the field, including staying out until 4am midweek before the second Melbourne Test with Rebels teammate Kurtley Beale, and showing a lack of remorse afterwards.

Melbourne Rebels chief executive Rob Clarke “complimented” O'Connor for his contribution to the club over the last two years, which he said was “unfortunately limited due to a string of injuries”.

“I would like to acknowledge the role James has played in helping the Rebels gain traction in the very competitive sporting landscape in Melbourne,” Clarke said in a statement, a day after the Lions thrashed the Wallabies 41-16 in the deciding Sydney Test.

“After three years in the Super 15 competition, the club is entering the next phase of development.

“I am very confident in our player recruitment strategies which continue to identify some excellent emerging talent. This group will provide the platform for continual improvement, both on and off the field.”

Wallabies' coach Robbie Deans' decision to pick O'Connor as rookie fly-half over controversial Quade Cooper hinged on how an overhauled Australian back-line performed with O'Connor calling the shots at number 10. But the move backfired in the 2-1 series loss to the Lions.

O'Connor was one of Australia's better players in the third Test loss, scoring their only try after a superb jinking run.

However, it was apparent from the outset that the brash 22-year-old's elusive ball-running game was better suited on the right wing or inside centre, as he struggled to take the right options as the team's chief playmaker.

With a possible change in coach influencing his own immediate Test future, O'Connor has played down his desire to wear the gold number10 jersey after the painful loss to the Lions.

“I've said I want to play 10 but I just want to be part of the team,” said O'Connor.

“I want to be on that field.

“I'll play wherever I can. I would like to nut down a position, maybe 10, maybe somewhere else.

“I can look myself in the mirror and say I gave my best shot for Australia.”