Planet Rugby

O'Connor eyes Wallaby RWC return

27th December 2013 08:20


James O Connor London Irish training 2013

O'Connor: Hasn't signed with Toulon

Sacked Wallaby utility back James O'Connor has revealed he's considering a bid to play for Australia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup despite reports he's agreed to join Toulon in 2014.

O'Connor, who is currently plying his trade with Premiership outfit London Irish, insists that Toulon head coach Bernard Laporte was premature in announcing he'd agreed to join the Heineken Cup champions in the 2014/15 season.

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has said he will not bend the Australian Rugby Union rule that players must be playing in Australia to be picked for the Wallabies.

If O'Connor plays a full season for Toulon it will prevent him from playing a Super Rugby season in early 2015 in time to earn selection for Australia's World Cup squad.

The 23-year-old has yet to experience a win in four matches at full-back for London Irish since arriving in November after his Wallaby contract was torn up.

"I obviously have some decisions to make in terms of the World Cup," O'Connor told getreading.

"I have been told I have to have been playing in (Super Rugby) for a season (to be selected for Australia).

"That complicates things a bit. But I'm loving my time here and the players have been great to me."

London Irish's director of rugby Brian Smith, a former Wallaby, was also adamant that no deal had been concluded with Toulon.

"James hasn't signed for anyone," he said.

"He's got an offer from us, but I don't know what French offers he's got."

A consortium led by London Irish's sponsor Mick Crossan took over the club a fortnight ago, promising to invest in the playing staff. Crossan, a London-based Irish businessmen, who is now club president told the Rugby Paper he wants O'Connor to be at the forefront of the club's planned resurgence.

"I wouldn't like to see James O'Connor go," he said.

"I've met him on quite a few occasions now and he's a class act on and off the field who I'd like to help spearhead our march back to where we want to be."

O'Connor left Australia after losing his Wallaby contract for off-field disciplinary issues but Crossan had only good things to say about his behaviour.

"He turned 23 in July and all the reports you heard was that you've got this young lad who was off the rails," he added.

"He's far from that.

"My son's 23 and James has done nothing different occasionally to what my son does most weekends.

"After his first game against Northampton, James attended our post-match Q&A and he held the whole crowd.

"Whether people were seven or 70, he had time for them all and he made sure he spoke to every one of them.

"This lad is very special...It's about building a community (at London Irish) and he can be at the forefront."

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