Australia leave James O'Connor's career in tatters
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
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
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.