Wallabies eager to help O'Connor

Date published: October 14 2013

Australia head coach Ewen McKenzie insists the door has not been closed on tearaway back James O'Connor.

Australia head coach Ewen McKenzie insists the door has not been closed on tearaway back James O'Connor.

O'Connor had been released from his contracts for this season and next season by the Australian Rugby Union, after a number of disciplinary incidents took their toll.

The former Western Force and Melbourne Rebels back was not allowed to board a flight from Perth following Australia's win over Argentina in The Rugby Championship in September, prompting action by the ARU.

With O'Connor announcing last week that he would be taking a break from the sport in order to sort himself out, speculation had linked the 23-year-old with a move to the Top 14 in France.

However the Wallabies remain committed to helping O'Connor overcome his troubles off-the-field and to get him back into an Australian jersey, with the young star having already won 44 caps and scored 223 points since his debut in 2008.

“I'm interested in improving him as a person so I'm happy to help in that process,” said McKenzie.

“We've had some contact. He's obviously working on his end of things.

“We've been concentrating on playing footy but I spoke to him from Argentina [where the Wallabies beat the Pumas a week ago].

“I'll continue to have contact but contact's a two-way thing.”

“I think the guys have always been available for James if he needs it,” added Australia captain James Horwill.

“He's a guy who needs to make the decisions for himself and not concern himself with other guys.

“He needs to find out what's important to him and work from there. He needs to work out what he wants on and off the field and the guys are always here if he wants to talk.”

Western Force coach Michael Foley said the franchise remain interested in bringing O'Connor back to where he started his Super Rugby career in Perth,

“Obviously there was an incident here at Perth Airport which tended to send things south a little bit,” said Foley.

“But we've continued to talk to James and we're definitely open-minded there.

“There's a plan to get the best out of him both on and off the field.”

Australia play New Zealand in the final match for this year's Bledisloe Cup this weekend in Dunedin.