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Thread: O’Connor skates on melting ice with ARU

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    O’Connor skates on melting ice with ARU

    September 20, 2013

    Georgina Robinson


    The stakes are high for James O'Connor. Sky high.

    The Wallabies winger's allegedly drunken Air Asia dummy spit not only threatens his participation in next week's two-game tour of South Africa and Argentina but also his playing future.

    O'Connor is in the final stages of negotiations on a deal with the Western Force and the Australian Rugby Union.

    But instead of walking in to ARU headquarters on Friday to sign on the dotted line, putting behind him months of uncertainty, the 44-Test Wallaby and his agent will front a please-explain meeting with the ARU's integrity officer instead.

    The powers that be are not impressed. They will rightly wait to establish the facts of the latest incident embroiling one of the sport's most controversial players. But if it is discovered that O'Connor, when asked to explain his behaviour from a Bali resort early this week may have watered down his version of Sunday morning's events, there could be repercussions.

    Ask Quade Cooper what happened the last time he publicly transgressed in the middle of a lucrative contract negotiation. Or Josh Dugan. Offers were withdrawn faster than either player could stammer an apology. In O'Connor's favour, he has never appeared before an ARU disciplinary hearing or been asked to answer a misconduct charge, let alone face arrest or criminal charges.

    But after a mounting list of controversies during the past few years, a recent public declaration that those days were behind him and some tough talk on discipline and behaviour from new coach Ewen McKenzie, there could not be a worse time for O'Connor to make a stupid decision.

    It threatens the Wallabies, too. McKenzie said last week he was reaching the limits of available outside backs, having lost starting winger Nick Cummins and replacement fullback Jesse Mogg to injury last week.

    After a ropy first performance on the wing in the first Bledisloe Test, O'Connor has proven himself one of the most reliable and hard-working members of the back line. Facing the Springboks at home without him would be the stuff of nightmares for McKenzie and co.

    Former Wallabies coach John Connolly said the team's needs should not cloud the matter.

    ''If someone is found to have done something serious enough to warrant a suspension then that can't come into your decision,'' Connolly said. ''I can't comment specifically on this until we find out what really happened, but what can't come into any type of punishment consideration is the situation in the team. There are just no exception to that.''

    There are wider issues at play. McKenzie has acknowledged the team culture is not as strong as it needs to be and has been putting time and effort into nurturing bonds and a sense of connection.

    Technically on leave in the Wallabies' bye week, the players were left to their own devices for six days after the Perth Test before being required in camp in Sydney on Saturday. No one would begrudge O'Connor or any of his teammates a few drinks after a badly needed Test victory.

    But the incident prompted at least two high-profile figures in Australian rugby to privately question why a player felt the need to allegedly take it much further than ''a few'' just a week before a physically gruelling two-Test tour to the other side of the world.

    The question was also raised why Bali - long considered the players' off-season playground - was deemed an appropriate destination for a few days between Test matches.

    Another former Wallabies coach, Eddie Jones, said O'Connor's actions proved Test preparation was ''not his priority'' and should be dropped.

    And then there is the question of ''brand'' - Australian rugby's, that is. Not O'Connor's.

    While the Wallabies battle on the field, two wins from seven Tests this year and one from four under McKenzie, every off-field incident hurts.

    ''The cumulative cost to the image of the game is massive because you're competing with every other code in Australian sport,'' Connolly said. 'We're struggling on the field, so those setbacks do hurt us, there's no doubt. It could have been blown out of all proportion, we won't know that yet, but it's something we can't afford at all. These guys should be smart enough by now to know someone is always watching.''


    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/un...#ixzz2fPe5kLBu

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    According to Channel 9 news Sydney. O'Connor has been stood down by the ARU and will miss next 2 tests.
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    Rich coming from Connolly.

    From http://www.thepost.co.za/mortlock-s-...tiny-1.572951:

    It was thought Mortlock would never again be considered for the role after he was one of three players disciplined over a late night out in Rome following the test against Italy last November.

    Reports said that on his return to the team hotel, he was also involved in an argument with assistant coach Scott Johnson.


    I don't remember Connolly disciplining/dropping Mortlock. In fact the rumour mill was suggesting that the situation was actually much worse but that it was swept under the carpet.

    It probably wasn't too dissimilar to O'Connor's situation- drinking late after a test match. Argued with someone. Only difference is that O'Connor is 23 and an idiot and Mortlock was 29 and not.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Link has stood JOC down from the rest of the Rugby Championship.

    Make that indefinitely.

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    Last edited by shasta; 20-09-13 at 17:08.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    Rich coming from Connolly.

    From http://www.thepost.co.za/mortlock-s-...tiny-1.572951:

    It was thought Mortlock would never again be considered for the role after he was one of three players disciplined over a late night out in Rome following the test against Italy last November.

    Reports said that on his return to the team hotel, he was also involved in an argument with assistant coach Scott Johnson.


    I don't remember Connolly disciplining/dropping Mortlock. In fact the rumour mill was suggesting that the situation was actually much worse but that it was swept under the carpet.

    It probably wasn't too dissimilar to O'Connor's situation- drinking late after a test match. Argued with someone. Only difference is that O'Connor is 23 and an idiot and Mortlock was 29 and not.
    Dont forget Connolly never had the final say here. Remember a CEO by the name of O'Neill?

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