Wallabies: James O’Connor says ‘it’s a clean slate for everyone’ under Eddie Jones

David Skippers

Reds utility back James O’Connor believes Eddie Jones’ appointment as Wallabies head coach will rejuvenate Australian players who might have thought their international chances were shrinking or over.

O’Connor said players who were on the outside looking in – regarding Test selection under former Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie – will have renewed hope now that Jones has taken over the coaching reins.

“It’s a clean slate for everyone but still early days,” he told Rugby Australia’s official website.

“I’ll admit myself I didn’t play my best footy last year. Being left out (of the Wallabies) did hurt. You can feel hard done by but it really lit a fire under me.”

The 32-year-old is one of a few players in Australia who has experienced Jones‘ coaching, albeit for a brief period.

He had just finished high school at Nudgee College in Brisbane and had a handful of sessions with Jones in 2007 before the coach left his position at the Reds.

Back in the Reds’ starting line-up

Despite being dropped by the Wallabies in 2022, and struggling with an ankle injury earlier this year, O’Connor is back in the Reds’ starting line-up at fly-half for Sunday’s clash with the Fijian Drua in Brisbane after making two appearances off the bench in their previous Super Rugby Pacific matches.

O’Connor would not get ahead of himself, however, when asked about his Wallabies chances.

“Look I’ve only played 68 minutes this season. I’m just focusing on Sunday,” he said.

“Reaching our potential as Queensland is the goal because there has been ‘very good’ for periods of the past few years but fluctuations too.

“The easy thing is to look ahead, look into the future. I’m enjoying the present moment.”

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