Planet Rugby

O'Connor will play again for Irish

16th April 2014 10:12

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One week out: James O'Connor

James O'Connor has not played his last game for London Irish, as initially feared after he picked up a hamstring injury against Newcastle.

The Australian international is leaving the club at the end of the season and it had been feared that the injury would he miss his final three games for Irish.

However director of rugby Brian Smith has allayed those fears, saying that O'Connor will be out of this week's game against Northampton but could come back next week.

"He won't be right for this weekend, but we've then got a weekend without a game. He might be right for (the following match on May 3 at) Gloucester," Smith told getreading.

"He will definitely be right for the last game (at home to Sale Sharks on May 10)."

Smith added that he felt O'Connor's time at London Irish had been successful and didn't blame him for opting to spend time playing for Toulon.

"James has been a terrific signing for the club. It coincided with the announcement of the new ownership and it was probably a declaration of intent by our new owners to say we can attract world-class players," added Smith.

"It would have been nice for James to spend the next six months with us as well before he heads back to Australia, but you cannot ask someone to turn down the sort of financial incentives to swing via Toulon.

"He has been terrific. He's a very good player and been instrumental in a couple of key wins for us.

"He did not miss a goal the day we beat Worcester (22-9) at home and he played well at the weekend.

"He's shared all of his experience and knowledge with our young back-three players.

"They've learned a lot from him and hopefully we've helped him a little bit too because there was a time in his career when he needed to get out of the goldfish bowl that was Australia and I think he'll be better for having spent time at London Irish and as a group we've benefitted from him being here."

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