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Thread: James O'Connor's shock request to leave Australia for Super Rugby Aotearoa

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    James O'Connor's shock request to leave Australia for Super Rugby Aotearoa

    9:20am, 11 December 2020

    Wallabies superstar James O’Connor has reportedly approached a New Zealand franchise to play in next year’s edition of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

    A report from the New Zealand Herald suggests O’Connor has sounded out the Chiefs as a potential playing destination in 2021.

    The Herald reports O’Connor, who was Australia’s starting first-five in his three test appearances this year, is eager to play in “the world’s toughest domestic competition” and “regularly test himself against the best”.

    The revelation comes just days after news of interest in O’Connor’s services in the Top 14, with Toulouse reportedly keen on bringing the former Toulon star back to French club rugby.

    The 55-test Wallaby reportedly met with Rennie on Friday to discuss a potential release from his contract with the Reds to play in New Zealand next year.

    While he doesn’t meet the 60-cap and seven-year service threshold required of overseas-based Australian players to play for the Wallabies, Rugby Australia [RA] last year announced two players based abroad who don’t meet those requirements can be selected for test rugby.

    There is no guarantee, though, that RA will agree to release the 30-year-old from his deal with the Reds in what would be a significant blow to the Queensland franchise.

    Having returned from English club Sale following a second stint in the Premiership last year, O’Connor proved to be an integral figure in a youthful Reds side that finished runners-up in Super Rugby AU behind the Brumbies.

    With vast experience and plenty of talent as a playmaker from either first or second-five, O’Connor’s departure from Brad Thorn’s squad would put a hefty dent in their ambitions to go one place better in 2021.

    As for the Chiefs, the acquisition of O’Connor would go some way to improving their efforts in 2020, when they finished last in Super Rugby Aotearoa with zero wins from eight matches.

    The Herald reports O’Connor asked multiple All Blacks about the idea of playing in Super Rugby Aotearoa, and it seems the Chiefs have been picked out as his franchise of choice.

    Losing Aaron Cruden to the Top League in Japan leaves the Hamilton side with Maori All Blacks youngster Kaleb Trask and former Blues and Highlanders pivot Bryn Gatland as their playmakers for next year.

    All Blacks star Damian McKenzie is also capable of covering first-five, but is likely to remain at fullback, leaving O’Connor as a prime candidate to fill the void of experience Cruden left in his exit to the Kobelco Steelers.

    According to the Herald, New Zealand Rugby have granted the Chiefs an extension to finalise their squad as they try to get the deal across the line.

    Should that happen, it would add to the growing international flavour in Super Rugby Aotearoa next year.

    The Highlanders have made the biggest splash in the international player market, bringing Japanese World Cup star Kazuki Himeno, three-test Wallabies prop Jermaine Ainsley and two-test Tongan midfielder Fetuli Paea to Dunedin.

    In Auckland, the Blues have Manu Samoa pair James Lay and Ray Niuia on their books, and are reportedly in the midst of luring Los Pumas midfielder Sebastian Chocobares to Eden Park.

    The sole offshore star at the Crusaders is Samoan prop Michael Alaalatoa, while the Hurricanes have his international teammate Kane Le’aupepe as one of their five locks.

    The Chiefs, however, have no foreign talent on their books, which means O’Connor will be able to slot into their squad should negotiations work in his favour.

    Earlier this year, four-test England midfielder Joe Marchant joined the Blues on a season-long loan and featured frequently throughout the year, as did South African wing Kobus van Wyk for the Hurricanes.

    New Zealand Super Rugby squads are limited to a maximum of three foreign players, with one of those spots dedicated to Pacific Island players.

    https://www.rugbypass.com/news/repor...ugby-aotearoa/

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    Veteran Sheikh's Avatar
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    Jesus, has that man got wandering feet? I think his career goes:

    Force - 4 seasons (2008-2011)
    Rebels - 2 seasons (2012-2013)
    London Irish - 1 season (2013/14)
    Toulon - 1/2 season (2014/15)
    Reds - 1 season (2015)
    Toulon - 2 seasons (2015/16 & 16/17)
    Sale - 1 1/2 seasons (2017/18 & 2018/19)
    Reds - 2 seasons (2019-2020)

    Now he wants to break his contract with the Reds and join the Chiefs?

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    Veteran valzc's Avatar
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    I thought I saw something yesterday that Toulouse wanted him?

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valzc View Post
    I thought I saw something yesterday that Toulouse wanted him?
    The revelation comes just days after news of interest in O’Connor’s services in the Top 14, with Toulouse reportedly keen on bringing the former Toulon star back to French club rugby.

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    This bloke has been through more clubs than Gunny on a golf course

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    This bloke has been through more clubs than Gunny on a golf course
    Dangerous places. Had a few jars with a friend yesterday who's 75 and plays every Tuesday. Anyway, at Whaleback this week he was looking for his ball, reached down to separate some scrub, felt a sting, saw nothing but bled for 10 minutes ~ takes blood thinners. Felt OK, played on went home to his wife, a nurse, who said "you've been bitten by a snake you silly old bugger." Has an inch round bruise just above his wrist with 2 very distinct punctures.


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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    Dangerous places. Had a few jars with a friend yesterday who's 75 and plays every Tuesday. Anyway, at Whaleback this week he was looking for his ball, reached down to separate some scrub, felt a sting, saw nothing but bled for 10 minutes ~ takes blood thinners. Felt OK, played on went home to his wife, a nurse, who said "you've been bitten by a snake you silly old bugger." Has an inch round bruise just above his wrist with 2 very distinct punctures.

    Note to self: Be careful when looking for errant ball at Whaleback given it's my local source of frustration, err I mean Golf.

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    Legend Contributor brokendown gunfighter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    This bloke has been through more clubs than Gunny on a golf course
    some of my clubs have proved to be rather brittle

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    Note to self: Be careful when looking for errant ball at Whaleback given it's my local source of frustration, err I mean Golf.
    Hehe. Of course I was very sympathetic; I said that's payback for all the times you flicked it back to the fairway while nobody was looking.

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    Didn't he look for a release from the Reds last time too, having arrived proclaiming his commitment to Australian Rugby? Maybe it is Queensland...

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyS View Post
    Didn't he look for a release from the Reds last time too, having arrived proclaiming his commitment to Australian Rugby? Maybe it is Queensland...
    The thing that interests me is that maybe the Chiefs can offer him more money than QLD, plus RA top-up? Assuming the RA wont pay him top-up if he playing for the Chiefs, but maybe under the new RA rules Rennie can pick Aussie players from overseas, who did not play Super AU. (Hooper is likely the other) Presume the RA will only pay these two, if they actually play a Test matches and are not injured or somebody else is picked instead in their position.
    But you would also wonder, with all all the Kiwi talent, why the Chiefs would want to pay top dollar for an Aussie?

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    Veteran Sheikh's Avatar
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    The Chiefs have lost Cruden to Europe and 'only' have Bryn Gatland and a couple of youngsters. But watching the NZ player development process, these youngsters would probably be pretty special.

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    Veteran Bakkies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheikh View Post
    Jesus, has that man got wandering feet? I think his career goes:

    Force - 4 seasons (2008-2011)
    Rebels - 2 seasons (2012-2013)
    London Irish - 1 season (2013/14)
    Toulon - 1/2 season (2014/15)
    Reds - 1 season (2015)
    Toulon - 2 seasons (2015/16 & 16/17)
    Sale - 1 1/2 seasons (2017/18 & 2018/19)
    Reds - 2 seasons (2019-2020)

    Now he wants to break his contract with the Reds and join the Chiefs?
    Old man selling his redemption story to the highest bidder.

    A redemption story I don’t buy as he was arrested in Paris two years ago with Ali Williams. You need more than two years in this game to prove that you have changed your character.

    The main reason why he was over there was due to being close to unemployable in Australian Rugby. By going to NZ he is making sure the Reds deal will be his last here.

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    Perhaps a few heavy tackles from kiwi flankers will beat some sense into him
    I have spent much of the last decade dreaming of such a fate
    Maybe having pain inflicted was one of his famous KPIs

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