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Thread: Former Wallabies star James O'Connor harbours burning desire for another shot

  1. #1
    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    Feb 2006
    West Leederville

    Former Wallabies star James O'Connor harbours burning desire for another shot

    Tom Decent

    Paris: When James O'Connor, regarded by many as the forgotten man of Australian rugby, was sent a photo by a former teammate this week of himself as a 17-year-old in Western Force colours, he burst out laughing.

    "Nine years ago, s--- Ö I don't know how I was playing Super Rugby back then," O'Connor told Fairfax Media. "I was about 80 kilos wringing wet. It's been nine years, it puts it into perspective. I'm getting old.

    "Sometimes you look back and laugh and you think: 'F---, what was I thinking'?"

    After making his Super Rugby debut at 17, O'Connor received his first Wallabies cap a year later at 18.

    By the tender age of 21, he had 37 Tests to his name and was on course for a long career in the Wallabies jumper.

    Now, speaking from the south of France in Toulon, the city of his adopted French Top 14 club, O'Connor reveals he has never been more motivated to represent the Wallabies, despite his chequered past.

    "It [motivation] is now flipped to a new level," O'Connor said. "I want to be playing for the Wallabies. I watch all the games and speaking to all the guys, it's the pinnacle of rugby. It's bittersweet as well because you want to be out there playing. For now, it is pretty tough. That burning desire is there to pull on that jersey again."

    O'Connor, 26, believes he has matured significantly since his last game for the Wallabies in 2013 against Argentina, one he would rather forget.

    The following day, O'Connor's ARU contract was torn up as a result of an alcohol-related incident at Perth airport and the fact he had been warned a number of times about his drinking.

    If only, O'Connor wonders out loud, he could pass on some wisdom to his younger self.

    "There's definitely times I look back and I'm like, 'Geez I wish I could have seen it from my perspective now'," O'Connor said.

    "My mindset now, I wish I could look back and make some other decisions. In terms of [the incidents] away from rugby, if you can't laugh at yourself then what can you do? You can't get down in the dumps and think what could have been. It's not the way to live.

    ďYou get older, your mentality changes, your goals in life change. You're not just living for the weekend, you're living to experience lifeĒ

    "You get older, your mentality changes, your goals in life change. You're not just living for the weekend, you're living to experience life."

    After some time in Britain, O'Connor returned to the Queensland Reds in 2015 on a two-year deal but by the end of the year was out the door, citing personal issues as the reason why he ended up at Toulon.

    This weekend though, O'Connor will return to Australia for the first time since his high-profile departure and subsequent spat with former Wallaby Greg Martin, who labelled the precocious youngster an "immature t---" and the "Justin Bieber of Australian rugby".

    O'Connor injured his neck on the weekend for Toulon and will return to the Gold Coast to see his parents and "let the body unwind and just chill out".

    For O'Connor's new-found Wallabies dream to become a reality, he needs to be signed with a Super Rugby franchise.

    O'Connor is off contract at Toulon in July and has hinted that he wants out.

    "I literally had the first conversation with my management after the game when I was p----- off on Sunday night," O'Connor said.

    "We really nutted a few things out. Like every player, you start having a look around before your contract ends. I leave that to my management and those blokes Ö I'll let them know how I'm feeling and where I want to go with my rugby. I'm a free agent at the end of this season.

    "I've got a couple of options I've got to weigh up and I'll have some good conversations and pick my brains to see exactly where I see myself and what I think is going to be the best path for me over the next few years leading into my prime. There's some big decisions to come Ö I've got some hard thinking to do."

    O'Connor insists he is enjoying his time in France, even if he prefers the style of Super Rugby, and particularly given he was injury-free for the first time in a long while before his most recent setback.

    "I've really got that burning desire back for my rugby," O'Connor said. "It probably took a bit longer than I was hoping when I came over. I am going to say I do prefer Super Rugby and the Australian style. It was quite an eye-opener when I first came over.

    "I was not in the best shape. I had just had knee and ankle surgery. I said let's do some surgery on it because I couldn't step properly off the left leg. I fixed that up ... and now I'm in a good position."

    O'Connor has been starting on the wing for Toulon but with the emergence of Dane Haylett-Petty and a number of other impressive new Wallabies backs, would O'Connor, who has been given so many chances already, be genuinely in the mix?

    He hopes so.

    "It's just good to be able to sit back and give me some good motivation," O'Connor said. "I started when I was 17. I'm nine years a professional now, so I'm getting old. I'm old but I'm young. Hopefully the body can take it to the next level too.

    "I'm not sure exactly how long I'll stay or where I'll go or what those sort of questions are but I think it definitely was the right move for me at the time with where I was.

    "I still look about 15 still though."

    So you would think the Reds is not an option, nor the Rebels. I doubt the Tahs would let him in, Brumbies it is or will the ARU Allinace lead him back to WA....................only time will tell.

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  2. #2
    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Kudos to him for recognising his earlier mistakes and wanting to put that right. If that new-found maturity and humility is genuine, I wouldn't mind seeing him back here.

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  3. #3
    Apprentice Bookie
    Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    He is making the right noises.

    Plus - he is the only player that I tweeted the Online Petition to do a Retweet.

    Plus he has shown his support to OwnTheForce.

    It would be good to see him back......

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    "Let me tell you something you already know. The world ainít all sunshine and rainbows. Itís a very mean and nasty place and I donít care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ainít about how hard ya hit. Itís about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. Thatís how winning is done! Now if you know what youíre worth then go out and get what youíre worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ainít where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ainít you! Youíre better than that!" - Rocky Balboa

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    If the new found maturity is for real and the off field shit is a thing of the past, then I would have no problem having him back. He has some great Rugby years still ahead of him and is a genuine talent.

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  5. #5
    Player vulcan's Avatar
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    Mar 2014
    as mentioned making the right noises so much talent i would like to see him back in Force colours

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  6. #6
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    May 2007
    I honestly couldn't careless wether he comes back here or not. We have some great backs and I believe the team roster is full for next year. He is one of many players including Pocock and Godwin who the Force gave an opportunity to who are no longer playing for the Force and I hope the ARU takes into consideration this point if and when any decision needs to be made about teams being dropped in Aus.

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