Australian Rugby
Australia leave James O'Connor's career in tatters
ESPN Staff
October 3, 2013
The Australian board has turned its back on James O'Connor © Getty Images

James O'Connor's troubled career took another turn when he was released from the last three months of his contract with the Australian Rugby Union.

An incident at Perth airport three weeks ago appears to have been the final straw for the board and he will now not be considered for selection again in 2013. O'Connor will be able to play for Australia in 2014, but he will have to take a pay cut if he is to stay in the country.

The Ups and Downs of James O'Connor

  • April 2008: Becomes youngest Super Rugby debutant at 17 when he played off the bench for Western Force against Queensland Reds
  • November 2008: Becomes second youngest Wallabies player when, aged 18, he debuts off the bench against Italy in Padua
  • June 2009: Scores three tries in his Wallabies starting debut against Italy in Canberra
  • April 2011: Confirms deal with Melbourne Rebels from 2012
  • August 2011: Suspended for one match and given a suspended fine after missing the Wallabies' official Rugby World Cup 2011 announcement
  • June 2013: Photographed at a Melbourne fast-food outlet at 4am in the week of the Wallabies' second Test against the British & Irish Lions
  • July 2013: Fails to attend Wallabies team meeting after a loss to the Lions at ANZ Stadium
  • July 2013: Released by Super Rugby side Melbourne despite being a Wallabies regular. The Rebels state the franchise is "entering the next phase of development"
  • September 2013: Removed by Australian Federal Police from Perth Airport after the Wallabies' win against Argentina. AFP reports he was intoxicated.

The ARU will not offer O'Connor any top-up payments until at least 2015 and with his talks stalling over a potential move to former side the Western Force, he faces an uncertain future.

O'Connor can only play for the Wallabies if he plays for a Super Rugby franchise, however the Force have urged him to take a break from rugby. "We believe it's in James' best interests to take time and reflect on what's important to him and what he really wants," said chief executive Mark Sinderberry.

It is widely speculated he will make a clean break and head overseas with Saracens reportedly interested in his signature.

O'Connor said the decision was "mutual" adding: "As a professional, I am focused on developing as a person and as an athlete and intend to do everything possible to put myself in the best environment to do that.

"I want to apologise for any issues that I have caused and I want to express my respect for my team-mates, the Wallabies and the jumper. There is nothing more important and rewarding to me than representing my country. I remain focused on earning my place back with the Wallabies and will be looking for the right opportunity to do this"

O'Connor went on to say he plans to stay on the Gold Coast with his family over the coming weeks, while he decides on his playing future. "I realise I need to earn back a lot of respect, and that is exactly what I plan to do both on and off the field," he said. "I want to wish my teammates and the Wallabies the best of success and I will be supporting you fully in the coming months."

The agreement is effective immediately and as a result, O'Connor will not be considered for selection for the Wallabies' coming tour to England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.

The ARU has cut James O'Connor
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