James O’Connor left Australia to seek greener pastures at London Irish and is clearly enjoying life in the Northern Hemisphere. Total Rugby put together this feature on the former Wallaby, where he speaks about rugby abroad, tactics and playing for his country. He needs to find a team in Australia though, which appears to be a challenge.
O’Connor will join Toulon at the end of the season, then aims to get back to Australia to be eligible for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The problem, it appears, is that there isn’t too much interest from the teams in Australia, with the Rebels, Waratahs and Brumbies reportedly not interested.
The Force are rebuilding after some previous issues, and have stated that they’re not sure they’d want to risk upsetting things again. The Reds is his best bet, but Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie has said that despite his fondness for O’Connor, it’s not his job to find the talented back a team.
“I have left it up to him to work out how he gets back to Australia and that’s between him and the provinces really,” McKenzie told Fox Sports recently.
“The people he has to convince are those people. They’ve got team cultures and how they want to go about business, and they also have salary caps and all those things.
“He obviously chose to go offshore. Well, getting back onshore and getting back here, that’s the challenge he has got to sort out. I am not out there peddling anyone’s case. I have to be respectful of players who are here and plugging away and doing good things.
“In the end, the melting pot for the World Cup will become obvious at the start of next year, and we’ll go from there,” the former Reds coach added.
For Wallaby and rugby fans’ sake, it would be great to see him back in the gold and green jumper, especially with the World Cup such a showcase event. This video from Total Rugby gives us some insight into his frame of mind, and how much he’s enjoying life and rugby at London Irish.