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James O'Connor plans Super Rugby return in 2015

Still hoping for a World Cup berth: James O'Connor.

Still hoping for a World Cup berth: James O'Connor. Photo: Ben Rushton

James O'Connor will play out the year in Europe before returning to Australia in a bid to resurrect his Test career.

The 44-Test former Wallaby, who joined English side London Irish last October after having his contract torn up by the Australian Rugby Union, has signed a one-year deal with French Top 14 side Toulon.

But O'Connor has told Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie he plans to be back in Australia for the start of the 2015 Super Rugby season, his spokesman confirmed.

The exact details of O'Connor's contract with Toulon are still being finalised, but Fairfax Media understands a December return may be on the cards.

He must play the entire 2015 season in Super Rugby in order to be eligible for selection at the World Cup in September that year.

Just which franchise he will play for remains to be seen, but it is understood he is still in contact with Michael Foley at the Force.

O'Connor was poised to join the West Australian side in 2014, after parting ways with the Rebels, but opted to move abroad instead.

It appears the lines of communication have remained open. The former Wallabies back line stalwart has kept in touch with Foley and McKenzie since leaving Australia.

There are no guarantees that O'Connor's mooted return would automatically end in Test selection.

McKenzie will have the full 2014 season to bed down his preferred squad. The likes of powerful Brumbies winger Henry Speight, who will be eligible to play for Australia from September 11 2014, could put a squeeze on numbers.

Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau, if fit, will also occupy the back line spots preferred by their contemporary, not to mention winger Nick Cummins and seasoned utility Adam Ashley-Cooper.

The precocious young player, who made his Test debut at 18 and wore the No.10 jersey against the British and Irish Lions in June last year, has developed a reputation as a troublemaker following several brushes with rugby authorities.

The final straw came in September, hours after a Test match, when he was escorted from the terminal at Perth Airport after appearing to be heavily intoxicated and arguing with airline staff.

McKenzie subsequently declared that O'Connor would have to "modify [his] behaviour" if he wanted to resurrect his international career.

He toyed with staying in Australia - re-joining the franchise with which he made his Super Rugby debut was his only option - but moved offshore.

At Toulon he will link up with former Wallabies Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell as well as other new signings such as Welsh internationals Leigh Halfpenny and Ian Evans.

A spokesman said O'Connor was sad to be leaving London Irish but tremendously grateful to the club's Australian coach Brian Smith, who threw him a lifeline when his Test career ended here.

5 comments so far

  • Does anyone really care? At the moment there are 3 football codes out of season and one code moving toward the business end of theirs. Yet when I look on the sports section for today's news there are 5 league/ Union stories and no local football stories. What's going on SMH? I mean James O'Connor....a narcissistic prat if ever there was one....if I wanted this much Out of season news I'd subscribe to the Tele. I don't and I haven't. Pick it up SMH.

    Commenter
    Simon
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    February 07, 2014, 7:24PM
    • How should O'Connor be able to plan anything? Surely isn't it up to the Super Rugby franchises to decide whether or not they are prepared to spend their money on loose cannon who cannot guarantee that he will do what he is told. What viable business would invest in an employee that brings no guarantee that he will do anything but bring grief to the business? I reckon a year as a labourer, or in the case of Rugby maybe a jackeroo, doing what he is told, might give the clubs an indication that he could be relied on.

      Commenter
      RTP
      Location
      Sawtell
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 7:28PM
      • This is about the most unimportant rugby news I will read this year. An adequate player who for what ever reason remains on the rescue Aussie rugby list. If he was in NZ he would have been well forgotten by now.

        Commenter
        Fergus
        Date and time
        February 07, 2014, 8:15PM
        • So O'Connor hopes to be involved in the 2015 RWC,let's hope he finds a seat with a good view.

          Commenter
          Circling buzzard
          Location
          Fremantle
          Date and time
          February 07, 2014, 8:38PM
          • I'm sure there will be plenty of fans ready to buy him a glass or six to celebrate...

            Commenter
            Duke
            Date and time
            February 07, 2014, 9:20PM

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            Super Rugby 2015

            Round 1
            Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
            CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
            BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
            Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
            LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
            BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
            Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
            SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
            BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
            WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 2
            Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
            CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
            REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
            Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
            BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
            HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
            RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
            Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
            STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
            SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 3
            Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
            HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
            FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
            Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
            CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
            CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
            REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
            Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
            BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
            LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 4
            Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
            CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
            BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
            Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
            BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
            RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
            Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
            CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
            STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 5
            Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
            HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
            FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
            Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
            CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
            HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
            RED vs BRU 29 Stats
            Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
            STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
            CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 6
            Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
            HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
            REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
            Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
            CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
            Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
            BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
            SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
            WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 7
            Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
            HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
            RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
            Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
            CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
            HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
            WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
            Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
            SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
            BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 8
            Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
            HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
            REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
            Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
            CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
            BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
            Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
            SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
            LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 9
            Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
            BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
            Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
            CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
            WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
            FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
            Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
            LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
            BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 10
            Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
            CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
            Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
            HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
            HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
            BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
            FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
            Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
            SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
            CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 11
            Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
            CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
            BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
            Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
            CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
            WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
            Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
            LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
            STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
            RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
            View All Fixtures
            Round 12
            Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
            HIG vs SHA 17:35FBS
            BRU vs WAR 19:40GIO Stadium
            Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
            BLU vs FOR 15:30EP
            HUR vs CRU 17:35WS
            REB vs CHF 19:40AAMI
            Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
            CHT vs STO 01:05FSS
            BUL vs LIO 03:10Loftus Versfeld
            View All Fixtures
            Round 13
            Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
            CRU vs RED 17:35AMI
            REB vs BLU 19:40AAMI
            Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
            HUR vs SHA 17:35WS
            FOR vs WAR 19:40nib Stadium
            LIO vs HIG 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
            Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
            STO vs BRU 01:05DHL Newlands
            View All Fixtures
            Round 14
            Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
            BLU vs BUL 17:35EP
            RED vs REB 19:40SS
            Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
            HUR vs CHF 17:35WS
            WAR vs SHA 19:40AS
            Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
            LIO vs BRU 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
            CHT vs HIG 03:10FSS
            View All Fixtures
            Round 15
            Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
            CHF vs BUL 17:35Rotorua International Stadium
            RED vs SHA 19:40SS
            Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
            BLU vs HUR 17:35Emirates Airlines Park
            WAR vs CRU 19:40ANZ
            FOR vs HIG 21:45nib Stadium
            Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
            CHT vs LIO 01:05FSS
            STO vs REB 03:10DHL Newlands
            View All Fixtures
            Round 16
            Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
            CRU vs HUR 17:35Trafalgar Park
            BRU vs BUL 19:40GIO Stadium
            Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
            SHA vs REB 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
            HIG vs CHF 17:35Rugby Park
            FOR vs RED 19:40nib Stadium
            Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
            STO vs CHT 01:05DHL Newlands
            LIO vs WAR 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
            View All Fixtures
            Round 17
            Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
            HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
            FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
            Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
            REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
            BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
            RED vs CHF 19:40SS
            CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
            Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
            STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
            View All Fixtures
            Round 18
            Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
            BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
            REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
            Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
            BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
            CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
            WAR vs RED 19:40AS
            Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
            BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
            SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
            View All Fixtures
            Round 19
            Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
            7 vs 7 09:00
            Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
            7 vs 7 09:00
            View All Fixtures
            Round 20
            Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
            7 vs 7 09:00
            Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
            7 vs 7 09:00
            View All Fixtures
            Round 21
            Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
            7 vs 7 09:00
            View All Fixtures
            Super Rugby 2015
            Overall standings
            Team P W L D +/- Pts
            Hurricanes 9 8 1 0 101 38
            Brumbies 10 6 4 0 96 31
            Stormers 10 7 3 0 33 30
            Chiefs 10 8 2 0 78 37
            Bulls 10 6 4 0 46 29
            Waratahs 9 6 3 0 29 27
            Highlanders 9 6 3 0 20 28
            Lions 10 6 4 0 -43 26
            View all
             
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