Aviva Premiership
London Irish confirm signing of O'Connor
ESPN Staff
October 29, 2013

Last orders for O'Connor

An exile with the exiles © Getty Images
  • It could be the starting point for a poor joke. A Kiwi, a Lion and a Wallaby walk into a bar. Except this one is called the Last Saloon, otherwise known as the Aviva Premiership.

    The Lion, Gavin Henson, is doing okay at Bath after a rough cider-fuelled start. He's not yet a world-beater but he's a good squad player, he's finding his feet.

    The Kiwi-born English international Dylan Hartley kept his Northampton Saints captaincy after the incident at the end of last season and despite an unfortunate injury, he should be on the bench for England on Saturday.

    And then there's the Wallaby. Fiercely talented but James O'Connor finds it too easy to stray from what is expected from a top level international.

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London Irish today confirmed one of rugby's worst-kept secrets with the announcement they have signed the disgraced James O'Connor for the remainder of the season. he is likely to make his debut at home to Northampton this weekend.

With only Western Force in Australia remotely interested in O'Connor and after being dumped from the national squad, he had little choice but to head abroad to continue playing this season and presumably to take a substantial pay-cut in the process.

"James is a world-class player and a terrific kid and it is fantastic to have him at London Irish," said director of rugby, Brian Smith. "He'll bring a huge amount of experience to our group and will fit in well to our style of play. He is fit and ready to play so the coaching group will get him up to date on everything and hopefully he'll be ready to go this weekend."

O'Connor said he had spoken to clubs in France and Japan before concluding "the best way forward for my development was to move to England. Given that I've left my support network back in Australia, London Irish offered me an environment that I felt comfortable with.

"In England and Wales they play a very high-pressured, territory based game. I thoroughly believe I can improve elements of my game by playing in the Aviva Premiership."

James O'Connor concedes he has made 'lots of mistakes'
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